Those Favoring Home Rule Hope 6th Time will be a Charm in Cecil County

Friends of Charter billboard on Route 40 in Elkton

A reader asked if Someone Noticed would explore the history of the home rule attempts in Cecil County.  That’s a good idea since advocacy groups on both sides of the ballot initiative are going to weigh in with arguments and there will be a need for in-depth, unaffiliated reporting on the broader public policy question.  So we’ll contribute to the discussion by presenting an independent analysis of how Cecil County has stood on home rule, starting in the late 1960s.   There are some lessons in those votes, such as what the key issues were, what were the pros and cons for home rule as it was framed at each point in time, and what did citizens decide. 

A ballot effort to alter the form of government has been put before the citizens five times, the first one taking place on November 5, 1968.  In that troubled year 75% of the voters turned out for an important national election.  Of those 7,010 were against code home rule while 1,570 favored the option.  After that, voters considered forms of home rule in 1972, 1991, 1992, and 1996, the initiative failing each time.    

Now, for the sixth time, the question will be on the ballot.  Since the campaign is underway as billboards sprout up along Route 40, advertisements appear in legacy media outlets, and a speaker’s bureau presents reasons for supporting charter government, we’ll pull this together over the next week or two, in order to independently contribute to the discussion.     

As we dig into this story, you may monitor campaign finances and expenditures over at the Maryland Election Center.  That was helpful for Someone Noticed during the primary election as we watched the money trail for candidates.  Thus since billboards favoring Charter are placed in the county we thought we might find some information about funding sources for Friend of Charter of Cecil County.  But according to the Maryland Election Center, the pro-charter, issues-oriented committee hasn’t raised any money or had any expenditures.  We’ll keep an eye on that for updated reports too and ask around some about that, but in this information age readers are able to do that just as easily as any newspaper or media outlet.     

News Journal Reports outcome of 1996 decision

MD Election Center campaign report for Friends of Charter shows no income or expenditures

About these ads

86 responses to “Those Favoring Home Rule Hope 6th Time will be a Charm in Cecil County

  1. Why is there no real recall provision in the Charter Gov’t proposal?

    I also don’t like the taxes that will inevitably be raised as a result of the passage of Charter.

  2. How can friends of Charter have no donations and no expenditures and have bill boards and half page newspaper ads popping up all over the County?

    If this is an example of what Charter will bring us, I can live without it.

    • Concerned Citizen

      We’re holding 2 posts on this specific subject for publication since Someone Noticed is verifying the information for an independent story and the readers made allegations that needed some verification. We’re working on this now and should have an additional news story about financing up in a day or so.

      What we can share now is that Craig Whiteford, the county finance officer, said the county did not provide funds from the county for the billboards. At last nights candidates forum, Joyce Bowlsbey provided information on how the boards are financed from the standpoint of Friends of Charter and also had comments on other elements. We’ll publish this shortly, but want to trinagulate that with some additional comments from the county about county involvement.

      Should have a news story out soon. Just want to make sure all the sources are largely reporting the same thing.

      • For everyone’s information according to Maryland Candidacy & Campaign Finance Laws:

        A ballot Issue Committee can receive unlimited contributions from an individual, business entity or any other organization. Contributions to a ballot issue committee do not count toward the contributor’s aggregate contribution limit.

        A ballot issue committee must file the same reports filed by any other political committee. However, it first report is not due until the second Friday immediately preceding the general election. The two Pre-Primary Reports are not required, since issues do not appear on primary election ballots.

        I suppose it would best for everyone to wait for the report before hurling insults and innuendo.

        No one supporting Charter Government is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Perhaps the anti-charter, and possibly elected officials with their influence at stake, should open up and stop the defensive posturing.

  3. Under Sect. 308 (a) of the proposed Cecil County Charter the idea of Referendums is covered.

    While the referendum idea conveys to the public they will have more imput into what the County government will be able to get away with, because the people will have the power to challenge laws at the polls, the Charter Board has specifically limited Cecil County voter’s powers under referendum.

    The first problem is that the Charter requires, that it take, 10% of registered voters to put a question on referendum. A much more fair way, is to only require 10% of the number of registered voters who actually voted in the last election.

    Under subsection (1) of the Charter Section 308 (a) The Charter Board has specifically prohibited the voters of Cecil County from being able to seek a referendum on any law “imposing a tax”. The Charter board has went to great lengths to prevent the citizens from being able to challenge any tax imposed upon them by the new Charter government. If the Charter government can not raise taxes as they claim, why go to such efforts to prohibit a challenge to increased taxes.

    If Charter is supposed to be giving us a government more close to the people, more open, more honest, then why limit the people’s ability to say no, at the polls, to an exorbitant tax?
    Under Section 308 (a) (2) The Charter Board goes on to also prohibit the public from being able to challenge by referendum any laws which are “appropriating funds for expenses to maintain the government”.

    If the new Charter Government should choose to spend 80 or 90% of the entire county budget on one area, such as education or roads, the voters would be powerless to object to this by taking the question to referendum. Clearly, if the new Charter Government are not planning on being fiscally irresponsible why would they fear allowing the voters the ability to challenge irresponsible spending through referendum?

    It is clear to me that this new Charter seeks to eliminate any checks and balances to the taxing and spending of the County Commissioners. Currently the Delegation acts as a check on spending, if you take them out of the equation and then eliminate the taxpayers having a right to challenge taxes or spending by referendum, the citizens will be left to the mercy of the County Commissioners.

    We have also remember that if Charter passes, the elected position of Treasurer will be eliminated and replaced by a County Director of Finance, under Article 5 of the Charter proposal. Again, we lose another independent Check and balance on the unchecked taxing and spending of the County Commissioners.

    Someone please tell me, what are the benefits of this new Charter proposal? I am only seeing increased taxes and less accountability, not great selling points.

    • To Delegate Mike “Concerned Citizen” Smigiel: Why don’t you write an Op-Ed piece instead of posting on blogs under an alias? Take your own Journalism 101 course. The “delegation” is more than you and Pipkin. There are eight members. You and Pipkin, hereafter known as SMIPKIN, bullied everyone in sight during the last session. Where would we be now with a tax cap as well as binding arbitration? Your proposed referendum had two choices 1) collective bargaining 2) collective bargaining with binding arbitration. Why not a third choice of “none of the above”. The State of Maryland withheld our share of fuel taxes last year and we had to make up the difference. Your ally Pipkin proposed shifting teacher pension costs to Cecil County when he was planning a failed bid to run for Comptroller. He recently announced that he will pursue the same plan this year. Where will that money come from? I have a suggestion for you. Why not challenge the Friends of Charter to a debate? Come out of the shadows and defend your position in the daylight.

  4. Nope. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Less accountability is rarely a good thing. Checks and balances are what I like, not cheques & taxes.

  5. First things first. As long as Annapolis has their claws in Cecil County, we will not have control over our future.
    Do not think for one second that you have any control over your taxes today.
    Just as with the United States of America, we must start taking our lives into our own hands. Over time it will be amended and refined.
    The Bozos in Annapolis do not care about you, or your neighbor, or our local businesses. They see us as a pathetic hoard of malcontent hillbillies incapable of guided our own futures, limping hat-in-hand to beg their guidance.
    Here are your choices:
    1- Leave the way it is with our local issues controlled by Annapolis Big Daddies.
    2- Vote Yes to bring our local issues home where we determine our destiny.

    I cannot think of another county, anywhere, with the population as large as Cecil County, that does not govern itself in one form or another.
    It is stupid to let the state control our county…they are not even sure if we are part of Maryland or Delaware…maybe even Pennsylvania.

  6. Raol, I don’t know that you know what you are talking about. Can you name anything that the Commissioners can not do now that they will be able to do under Charter, other than raise taxes and be more secretive?

    Tell me what the Cecil Delegation has done that was not in favor of the taxpayers of Cecil County. If you look at every other Charter County in the State you will find they are the larger, bigger spending counties. There are no savings to be had by going to Charter.

    • Mike Smigiel, Two things are binding arbitration and the constant yield tax cap. That is why our elected county officials went to Annapolis to fight you.

    • Concerned Citizen, the one great reason for charter government is to get rid of the Smipkin regime, much in the same way the colonies escaped from King George.
      Secretive, manipulative, self-serving, blind, repulsive, exclusionary, bullies, etc.
      We the people…
      We will overcome and make our own decisions. We will do what is right as Cecil County, no longer Smipkin land.
      What are the savings? [last sentence removed by Someone Noticed.]

  7. Dear Raoul

    In your rant against the Senator and the Delegate you forgot to address any of the specifics of why you would want this Charter Govt. How does allowing the Commissioners greater taxing power and bigger government help the average taxpayer. I understand you don’t like the Smipkin team but how does that help me avoid the commissioners having unchecked power? When the Commissioners were going to raise our taxes through an increase in the property tax rate, the delegation acted as a check on that and stopped it. As a result of the battle in Annapolis over taxes, this year the Commissioners failed to raise my property taxes for the first time in over 20yrs. For that I am supposed to hate the Smipkins?

    You can not make your own decisions if the new Charter passes because it removes all the checks and balances on the Commissioners. The delegation is removed and the people are expressly prohibited from being able to go to referendum to challenge taxes or over spending. That is certainly not govt closer to the people, that is giving the Commissioners unlimited power to tax and over spend. Frankly, I believe the devil you do know is better than the devil you don’t know.

    • So, Concerned Citizen, are you claiming that Smipkin is responsible for the lack of increase in the tax rate last year and the lack of a tax increase for the current year? Does that mean that Smipkin was responsible for the rate increases and actual tax increases for the prior years?

  8. Mr. Beale

    I am a Democrat, not a Republican. I don’t know delegate Smigiel, other than what I have read about him and so I can not speak for him. You though sir, appear ready to speak about subjects without doing your homework. The binding v. non-binding arbitration was what was offered to the FOP by the County Commissioners not the delegation. At the public hearing the delegation had they explained and showed charts and blow ups showing this was offered by the Commissioners and they, the Commissioners broke their word to the FOP. The delegation made the commissioners live up to their word and support one or the other.

    The delegation could have chosen to put either choice in a bill but instead left the choice up to the citizens to choose at a referendum at the polls. The new Charter will specifically deny the citizens the right to go to referendum on taxes or spending. We FOP members are gratful that the delegation had the courage to take on a fight they did not have to take on. How many Commissioners have you seen lately willing to step up and take on unpopular causes because it is the right thing to do?

  9. Dear Concerned Citizen,
    What unpopular causes should the County Commissioners be taking on.

  10. Dear Commissioner Hodge

    How about we discuss the causes that are unpopular with you, like lowering my taxes, cutting the waste in of government? How about you finish the job of fixing the problems at the SPCA weren’t you put in charge of that and don’t we still give them over a 1/2 million dollars a year. How about you live up to your promises for us FOP members and come to an agreement on the collective bargaining rights you promised while running for office but then reneged on when we refused to endorse you.

    How about you take on the unpopular cause of cutting the excess administrators from the school budget and concentrate on improving our classrooms. How about you take on the unpopular task of taking care of the horrible over crowding in the County Jail (waiting for a new jail would not be good enough for you if you had to work in those conditions or your son was laying on the gym floor with fifty other men).

    How about you take on the unpopular cause of trying to get the homeless problem addressed in the County. When is the last time you attended a shelter or met with the providers of services to the homeless in the County.

    Why don’t you take on the unpopular cause of having an ineffective ethics board in Cecil County. Why don’t you work to give the ethics board some teeth and independence.

    Why don’t you take on the unpopular cause of requiring Bainbridge developers to live up to their contracts and agreements?

    I could go on for days but I guess for now, your taking on any of these unpopular causes would be an improvement.

    • Concerned Citizen……My how your grammar has improved. Sounds like you are channeling the SMIPKIN agenda. Why don’t you form Enemies of Charter and come out of the closet? DEBATE THE ISSUE.

      • Mr Beale I wondered what happened to you. The last time we posted was on Topix where you were posting about the SPCA and I posted if you want the correct story speak to Delegate Smigiel in person. Your reply was you were going to the court house to review judgement against the Smigiel team and you would visit Smigiel. I said GO FOR IT and let me know what you found. Well need I say you never posted anything and that was days ago. Also durning our many postings you kept referring to me as Smigiel even when I kept posting you were incorrect. So here you are again accusing Concerned Citizen of being Smigiel. You seem to have a Smigiel aphobia. Get your facts straight and your fiction under control. People reading this are concerned citizens and I greatly appreciate someone taking their time to research and inform us.

        • Dear Concerned Citizen/ Billy Jo/Smigiel… I have the SMIPKIN team info. However I slipped [remark removed by Someone Noticed] in front of SMIGIEL’S office and have not fully recovered. I will provide details ASAP.

  11. Mr. Beale
    Can you argue any point on its merits without resorting to insults and
    conjecture? I have not identified you as a Hodgite even though you appear to be drinking the cool aid poured by Commissioner Hodge. I thought we were debating the issue but it appears you have no facts to back up your favoring Charter.

    I guess I will have to look for signs of intelligence on another web site.

  12. Concerned Citizen: I believe that any insults were self-inflicted. Please accept my invitation to present your views on charter in a public forum. If you are looking for signs of intelligence, do not go to Delegate Mike.

  13. How can Friends of the Charter, no donations and spending bills and counseling, a half-page ads appearing in newspapers across the province?

    If this is an example of this document will lead us, I can not live without.

  14. It is sad that SomeoneNoticed seems to have become an offshoot of the Topix board where anyone with any name can say (almost) anything in the comments and attack everyone and everything. I guess I am nostalgic for the days when it was just the “crazy old history teacher” who provided his cantankerous spin on things. At least then we could all have a good laugh at his funny, if a bit odd, comments.

    • Lousie:

      We too miss crazy history teacher, but he could get a little cranky and insulting as well when we went off on his favorite subject, the Elkton Town Commissioners. Several times we edited his remarks.

      From the time we started this blog we decided that anything we posted, including the primary content, would have our name attached to it. It helps with a persuasive argument if someone can validate authorship. That’s particularly important with the actual blog since we and others that have cropped up in Cecil County as sources of news content (whatever one thinks about that). We’re amazed that some in the county would go to the trouble of producing these things and not authorship. How am I as an independent, non-affiliated reader suppose to evaluate that source. Of course, the supporting politicians were aware from the start and overtime as in true Cecil County fashion the info slipped out so speculation was no longer necessary.

      We’ve encouraged our readers/comment providers to actually ID themselves since it’ll strengthen their arguments. When we first started covering Elkton, we at first thought we’d only let signed pieces go up, but we soon made a few discoveries. One with the Internet anyone can mask their identify and present in any fashion they want. Second, lots of people worry about taking public positions that are different than local politicians. As someone that always believed in public discourse, which includes politely and professionally testing and challenging viewpoints, we were really surprised about that. As a product of the 1960s era, it’s in our nature to always politely and professionally challenge positions taken by politicans and leadership. That discourse and exmination is helpful.

      BTW, on a much larger point than this little blog, that is something this county doens’t have. we don’t have legacy media that’ll ask hard follow-up questions, challenge closed meetings, take tough editorial positions, etc. and thus the ability for the public to see a broad range of viewpoints is hard here. Want to see a difference grab a few issues of the Kent Co. News and watch what they do in cover local and co govt. It’s a major difference.

      Given those realities, whether they’re right or wrong, we decided on another editorial position for this blog. Posts, as long as they met standards of decent exchanges and were generally on target would be allowed to go up. We review everyone one of them and when people stray to really personal matters or direct attack, we edit the comments. Now that doesn’t mean that politicians aren’t fair game to be challenged with facts and opinions, even if we disagree with the statements the readers are taking. They are and they should be. Also in keeping with this new communications age, just a little edgy is fine and humor is great (we make that determinatin as we ready the pieces).
      There needs to be a much better outlet for that since the legacy media in this county will have already taken a position in support or just can’t deal with the subjets at hand for whatever reason.
      Also in keeping with Cecil County tradition several of the blogs that have sprouted up will already have major obvious slants or really hidden onces, that come about because of old Cecil Co. agendas and turf issues. Some are obvious; others aren’t as plain, but reading over time will reveal that agenda.
      What Cecil County needs is a really independent of the political power structure news source that’s focused on one thing, providing readers with critical, independent news, regarldess of favored politicians.
      We’re seeing some excellent attempts at that in the Harford Dagger, Harford County News with an edge, the Cheterstown Spy and the Glasgow Route 40 Crossroads.
      Periodically we have hope that a comprehensive, independent news source will sprout up here. Meanwhile, we do our little pieces and when come out with our opinion pieces, label them as such.

      Anyway thanks for sharing. Pieces that take a position different than ours are allowed.

      Many of these remarks m are pertinent to the discussion — what’s the potential for increased taxes; what will happen if power becomes more concentrated in the hands of local politicians; will government be more effective by concentrating power in the hands of local poiticans since they’ll be able to legislate and serve as executives. There are a range of additional questions that need exploration for voters trying to make up their mind on this important public policy question and some of these posts speak to those points. Overall voters are going to have a hard time

  15. Accountable Government Fan

    My understanding is that Ballot Issue organizations like Friends for Charter are required to submit their first report on October 22, 2010. So I’d check the financial data after that date.

    There is a lot of political hype in the posts on Charter but I’d suggest more emphasis be put on what’s in the charter. Text is available on the county website at http://www.ccgov.org.
    The government structure under the proposed Charter, which separates legislative ( County Council ) and executive ( County Executive) functions, provides clearer definition of responsibilities. If you want to know whose to blame (or to be praised) you have a better chance than in the commissioner form of government.
    The provision to require an Executive-developed and a Council-approved five year strategic plan provides a measurement process when the next election comes around.
    And for those who are afraid of taxes going up, recognize that Charter provides no new taxing authority to the County. Maryland Charter legislation provides local authority for setting fees for licenses and franchises as the only revenue change provision.

  16. Citizen Know Nothing

    Voters of Cecil County Beware of what you wish for; it may come true. The proposed charter is full of loopholes that may thwart the will of the people.

  17. Dear Accountable Government Fan

    You too have drank from the Hodgites cup of Kool Aid if you are delussioned into believing that there will be no taxing authority under the proposed Charter Plan. There will be nothing but increased taxes and bigger, less responsive gov’t resulting from the passage of Charter. Spend a little time roaming the net about Charter Gov’t Powers in Maryland and you will learn the following facts.

    Under Section 508 of the Charter draft that appeared in the Cecil Whig it reads: “The Council Shall levy the amount of taxes required by the Budget”.

    Tell me, how can the Council levy taxes required, if the “Charter provides no new taxing authority to the County, as you argue?”

    Art. 3 Section 301 says that the County will be able to repeal or amend existing laws made by the legislature. I don’t see anywhere that issues dealing with taxes are excluded from being amended.

    What neither you nor the Charter Board are telling the citizens is that there are taxing powers available to all Charter Counties which are hidden under Article 25 in the Maryland code.

    My, won’t the citizens be surprised to learn that the Charter document being presented as the full extent of the powers being granted to the Council is actually only part of their powers because there are other powers available to all Charter Counties in the State.

    The County would receive new powers under the State Code under Art. 25 A
    Section 5 (O) and Art. 25 B Section 13.

    If Charter were passed, the governing council would be able to levy and collect taxes on land and personal property which is subject to the County Tax rate.

    They will be able to “levy and collect taxes for the organization , operation and maintenance of libraries, fire and ambulance services and other municipal services.”

    The will also be able to “levy and collect taxes to pay for additional retirement or disability benefits for former county employees who are determined by the county to be entitled to receive those benefits. ”

    All the above are taxing powers the Council will have under the proposed Charter. Add to that the elimination of our Anti-tax delegation and the independent elected Treasurer and where are the checks and balance on the power of the Council to raise taxes? It is even worse, when you realize that the Charter specifically prohibits the people from being able to go the polls
    and challenge by referendum any tax increases or over spending.

    Voting for this Charter is to give life to a tax monster that will have no checks or balances to protect the citizens from the avarice of government.

    I challenge anyone to find an example of any Charter County in Maryland that has not led to more expensive larger, less accountable government.

    • You seem very knowledgeable on the subject. Why don’t you work with Friends of Charter on presenting a debate prior to the election. It could be live streamed so that people could watch from home.

  18. We’re continuing to work on the story about financing the pro-charter campaign and a full piece will follow shortly, as we finish cross checking our information with reliable sources directly involved. On the other side, it doesn’t appear that there is an organized group opposing charter or we’d dig into that too.

    The deadline for filing the reports hasn’t passed so the group hasn’t been required to file, but still the matter of how the political action committee is funded is relevant.

    We will not be allowing the posts to go up reporting that county government underwrote the billboards for that rumor isn’t true. Craig Whiteford, the county finance officer, advised that local government wasn’t involved in a cash outlay.

    From the friends, they’re advising that the underwriting for the marketing campaign came from conducting a BRAC bus tour for the economic development dept. That dept had more tours than they could accomodate at one point, so the Friends, as a nonprofit group, handled it and contributions as a result of that effort were used for the billboards.

    Army regulations require a nonprofit or local govt to handle the tours since a real estate firm or builder may not be the undewriter of a BRAC tour. Thus economic development advises that since there was a time crunch to accomodate the last minute rush of interested parties, Friends of Charter was available and they successfully accomodated the goal of marketing the county to potential individuals/groups, while raising money for their political action committee.

    That’s, from sources internal to the county and associated with the Friends is how they financed the pro-charter marketing campaign.

    Full, developing story to follow.

  19. The truth about what happens when Charter is adopted is that the size and power of government is grown, along with it’s budget. All you have to do is look at the counties that have adopted charter and look at there budget before charter and after charter was adopted. There is not a single county in Maryland that after adopting charter reduced spending or taxes. It is not the form of government that is the problem, it is the people we elect to public office. Please check out Article 25(a) of the state code for yourself. The truth lies with in. The people that are supporting charter are the same people that thought Cecil night in Annapolis was a good idea at a cost to the tax payer of $20,000. Our Commissioner form of government can operate efficiently if we have the right people.

    • Mr Zeauskas,
      You should really do your homework before posting. The cost of Cecil Night in Annapolis was completely paid for by sponsorships – taxpayer dollars were not used. The County Treasurer’s office has all of the accounting records for it.

    • Those commissioners can do everything I need from the county. They can stop the developers from building in rural areas if they want to? They can add more cops or cut them back if they want to. They can give more money to the volunteer firemen if they want to. Need more snow plows or road maintenance. No problem they can do it right now. Sell our utility plan — no problem. More for the board of ed. It goes on and on. Government can do everything I need right now. It’s just that they don’t decide to do what is right. That is except raising taxes. They raise taxes whenever they want to right now and they do. Especially after some of them run on not raising taxes and still do it. Or when they run on making government smaller and they make it bigger. So why is it I want them to have more authority for? So they got a powerful executives that I can’t recall and they can raise even more taxes. That must it since they can do everything else I need, if they want to.

  20. About the time you think Cecil County can’t do any worse, there they go again. If I understand this correctly, county government arranged for this group to get funds to pay for this political advertising campaign. What they hell are they thinking over there? Now for you, you said you had a story coming up on the shortly. Where the hell is it? I want to know what they were doing.

    • Who are they over there?

    • Mr. Potter: Sorry for the delay in getting up this current news story, but we’ve been doing some additional sourcing on this to verify our information. But we’ll start working on it shortly. Essentially the outline we presented up above is what happened. When the County Dept. of Economic Development had a need to accomodate two BRAC bus tours at one time, they weren’t able to handle both. That Dept. thus arranged for the Friends of Charter, a political action committee, to conduct the second bus tour. That independent nonprofit group, registered under Maryland Election Campaign laws, was able to use donations received as a result of their assistance to the county to aid in underwriting the campaign to initiate a campaign that’s goal is to influence voters in a poisitive way for charter. There’s obviously more details, but that’s the core of the story as furnished by a range of people. There was no direct outlay of cash from public funds, but more of in-kind assistance and creating the relationship. I asked about the logic of making this connection for a political action committee and the spokesperson advises that they had to accomodate this tour with little time to make other arrangements and the folks aiding from the pro charter group were experienced at this sort of thing and able to step in instantly.
      Details to follow.

  21. Potter and Zeauskas,

    If the only way you can promote your agendas is to lie, mislead and spread deceptive rumor, then your arguments must be very weak indeed.

    You can rant No New Taxes, Lower Taxes, Less Spending, Smaller Government, etc. all you want. The problem is, you have no plan to make that happen or any valid ideas about what you would eliminate.

    Scare people by crying ‘If you do X, your taxes will go up’.

    Come up with a plan to go forward, rather than crawling in a backward thinking, Recessionist hole. (A recessionist is someone who actually relishes in the thought of going backwards)

    If you can’t think of anything else to do, stand in a pickup with Smipkin with your scare tactics, sue when it doesn’t go your way and above all, don’t offer to lower your compensation.

  22. After reading all the posts I’ve come to the conclusioin that I really like Kool-Aid. As a former employee of the Law Offices of Michael D. Smigiel, Sr., (a.k.a. Delegate Smigiel), I can attest that both he and his wife were wonderful people to work for – okay that classifies me as a Smigielite.

    Having been married to Joe Cara “Bear” etta for 26 years – I definitely drank that Kool-Aid so I’m a Cara “Bear” etta, too.

    As the Ehrlich Chair for Cecil County, I can attest that Commissioner Robert Hodge has worked tirelessly coordinating & installing Ehrlich signs in Cecil County. In addition, he helped fix the Smigiel & Pipkin signs at Cayots Corner. I believe they have been standing successfully every since. Commissioner Hodge also got several other locations where Smigiel signs are now being featured. Yeah, I drank the Hodgite Kool-Aid too!

    All 3 of these Americans share a love of their country, and desire to continue to make Cecil County an affordable & great place to live. Each of the 3 are deeply dedicated to the community. From my perspective each may take a different approach yet, all are working towards similar goals. There is room for diversity in my world – I’m going to go drink some more Kool-Aid.

  23. Personal attacks aside, some of us just look at results. Those politically connected (regardless of party) have controlled the Elkton Board of Commissioner for a long time. After considerable cost, we again see that no one can cross through the center of town on Delaware Ave. Whether state or local funds, I have been ripped off. The park is flooded as before. This might not matter to folks like the Carabetta’s that are living large outside of town limits, but the average citizen in the county seat sees their money being wasted, whether it came form town coffers or state grants.

    • Speaking of living large,I suggest you contact Del. Smigiel and Sen. Pipkin (SMIPKIN). They have been in office for years and Elkton is in their district.

  24. Mr. Abbott,
    Thank you for your post. I am confused about one thing though. If taxpayer funds where not involved why would the treasurer have all the records? If you know please let me know. I will ask Pam Howard next time I see her. Got to go, Diane is running out of Kool-Aide!

    • Mr Carabetta,

      The County’s office of Economic Development got the sponsorships – all revenues and expenditures were accounted for through the Treasurer’s department.

  25. Dear Drowning,
    Kool-aide mixes up quick!
    First let me clear up one thing for you, we do not live large and we do not control the Elkton Board of Commissioners, sort of hard since we live in Perryville!
    I agree that money is wasted and have spoken out about it going back to the early 90’s. In the case of Delaware Ave. , the money was wasted when someone put a road through a flood plain. When it rains the lowest points will flood. I saw many flooded roads yesterday and simply drove around them until the waters recede.

    • Since Delaware Avenue is in the SMIPKIN district, maybe they could huff and puff and blow the water out of there. We need action, not slogans and sign waving and frivilous lawsuits.

  26. Dear Concerned Citizen:

    I want to apologize for not being able to respond to your blog post of September 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM in a more timely manner. I have been very busy taking care of County business and do not have a lot of time to read blog sites or post on them.

    Your questions lead me to believe that the Cecil County Commissioners have not done a good job of informing Cecil County citizens and taxpayers of the progress that we have been making on issues that you raised.

    I would like to address your comments.

    Taxes

    For the last two years, County Commissioners have reduced property tax rates. We are the only County Commissioners that have achieved the constant yield rate during the last thirty years.

    Spending

    We are constantly looking to cut unnecessary spending from the County budget. We are always looking to be more efficient in how we provide County services. If anyone has suggestions on how to be more cost effective, please contact any of the County Commissioners.

    Animal Control

    The contract with the SPCA was modified for the first time in a long time. A Request for Proposal was published for other entities to provide animal control services for Cecil County and we received no responses except for the SPCA. If you know of a qualified entity that can provide animal control services, please have them contact me.
    An Animal Care and Control Task Force was formed consisting of members from various animal-related interests. Their recommendations are currently under review. The County Commissioners will be proposing a new Animal Control Ordinance in the near future that the Commissioners will be asking for public input.

    FOP

    I have never supported binding arbitration. I have not made any promises to the FOP regarding arbitration. I was never endorsed by the FOP. The FOP collective bargaining ordinance is in the hands of the FOP for their review.

    Cecil County Public Schools

    The Cecil County Public School System is managed by the School Board and the Superintendant. The County Commissioners are required by State law to provide the same level of funding to the school system that they provided the previous year with some adjustment depending upon enrollment. Cecil County voters must elect School Board members that represent their views on how to manage the public schools.

    County Jail

    The County Detention Center is currently being expanded and renovated. This work will improve living conditions and work environment.

    Homelessness

    I have purchased extra tickets for the Meeting Ground’s Autumn Gathering. I would like to invite you and your family to this event on October 16 at 11:00 AM. Please call me with your RSVP. Your attendance will allow time for us to talk more on how our community can work together to solve the homeless problem.

    Ethics

    The County Commissioners have appointed a review committee to make recommendations on how to improve Cecil County’s Ethics Ordinance and Ethics Board. We are anxiously waiting for their thoughts.

    Bainbridge

    The Bainbridge Development Corporation is responsible for managing the development of Bainbridge. They are working with a team of developers and the County to overcome several significant infrastructure and environmental challenges. I believe that there will be some positive news relating to Bainbridge in the next few months.

    The County Commissioners are working hard on many important issues that impact the citizens and taxpayers in Cecil County. If you or anyone would like more detail regarding the issues that you raised, or have any questions or comments on any topic, please feel free to call me.

    Robert Hodge
    Cecil County Commissioner
    443.553.1517

  27. While all of you self-serving whiners continue to discuss your own problems, and defend a supposed insult by another self-serving whiner…the subject that started this discussion is completely lost. Bobby extolling what a great job he thinks he is doing. Joey comes in pounding his chest for his wife, who by the way, seems to have done a good job of that on her own.

    This discussion began as a review of Charter government, grew into complaints about taxes, developed into criticisms of a sitting commissioner, sidetracked to an tear jerking remembrance of a crotchety old fart, gave forum to lies and misleading comments, challenges, segued to flooding (which is the town of Elkton’s problem)…

    Mike, can we get this under control, or should we start a new discussion that limits comments to the subject at hand? You have control over this. I do feel sorry for what you have to go through.

    • Diane Carabetta

      Dear Raoul,
      You are a hoot! May I offer you some Kool-Aid? Seriously, self-serving whiners – I don’t think anyone is whining here. I believe we are each trying to get out the facts as we see them. “Joey” & I are planning to have a party and we’d like to invite you as well as Diogenes, Howard Beale, James Abbott, Concerned Citizen, DJ, Mr. Potter, Mike and other contributors to this blog. I hope you will accept the invite because we need folks who get involved. While we may not agree on every issue; I believe we share some commonalities. I look forward to getting to know you better.

    • Raoul:

      You know the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton are experts at getting into all kinds of things, They have meetings that spin all over the place, face frequent lawsuits, struggle to figure out how to revitalize a downtown that has growing problems, get a grip on how to handle an ethics complaint, and admit in court that they’re violating their own laws, just to mention a few items. But how they got involved in this discussion is beyond me. I guess the flooding was on someone’s mind overnight since the town recently announced a problem to help with the flooding problem at Delaware Avenue. That fix, however, wasn’t designed to hold back troical storm type drenchings though. But I’m starting to drift here too.

      We’d hoped to have the first installment examining the history of the home rule attempts here, but as often happens in Cecil Co. politics there’s a surprising turn in things that need examination. We hadn’t anticipated the questions around the Friends of Charter’s financing and at first totally dismissed the idea that the county was paying for the billboads (they weren’t of course).
      Hopefully over the weekend, we’ll get the first installment of that piece up and that’ll focus everyone for a brief time back to the subject.
      What this reveals though is the need for a serious forum where people can be informed in a balanced sort of way about the pros and cons of charter since it is an important question. For the sixth time now, the most any county has ever considered such a question, voters will be asked to answer the ballot question.
      We once had a a strong, independent non-party affilated group, the League of Women Voters, and you could always look to them to host these independent types of things, a valuable part of the process. Several of the county’s below us still have a strong League organization. But that’s not omething we have here and typically the hosting group has an advocacy purpose in mind when they sponsor forums or the forums don’t help you understand the positions of the candidates since all they do is read a carefully prepared speech in a short few minutes, without a chance for questions or a chance to debate, even if briefly. But that’s where we stand here.
      More to come.

  28. Careful what you say about crotchety old farts! We are sensitive on the inside.

  29. Since Charter Gov’t is being backed by the papers, the chamber, and all the powers that be it seems like we are going to get a new Gov’t. No one really cares if a little ethical violation here or there occurs to fund the effort or if we are sold one idea when the reality of the change will actually give us a gov’t of more taxes, more gov’t control and less freedom.

    So, I say why wait till the last minute let’s choose who we want to have all the power, with no checks or balance on that power, to control the future of Cecil County. Please vote for one of those below or add a name to the list who you would like to see be our first, all powerful, County Executive.

    Dr Gell?
    Dr. Roberts?
    Dwight Thomey?
    Joyce Bowlsby?
    Nelson Bolender?
    Al Wein?
    Eric Sennstrom?
    Dan Sneckenberger?
    Vernon Thompson?
    Bill Manlove?
    Jimmy Crouse?
    Harry Hepbron?

    Who do you think will lead us under Charter?

  30. Bee..You forgot EJ Pipkin and Mike Smigiel.

  31. You forgot Robert Hodge and Tari Moore

  32. Concerned Citizen Smigiel, looks like you and Bee listed some of the SMIPKIN Enemies List. This is only partial because the SMIPKIN paranoia knows no bounds. Ask Commissioner Jim Mullin and Delegate Dick Sossi. Smigiel: Why don’t you sponsor a forum on Charter? That way you can set all the rules.

  33. Beale,

    You certainly have a fixation with Smigel and Pipkin, can’t anything be discussed without their being involved? What is your personal problem with them? You spew venom without any facts to back up your hateful statements.
    This is not about them. This is about the list of potential County Executives for Cecil County.

    I did not say one derogatory remark about any of the citizens I listed as potential County Executives. Do you like any of them? Do you like someone else for the job? Lets see if you can add something of value to the conversation once without resorting to hate filled rants.

    I like the idea of adding Robert Hodge and Tari Moore. Bee is correct either would be a potential candidate.

  34. Why are you afraid of a forum / debate? Don’t pick the Executive before the position is established. Having read your prior posts, you have good data to share with a wider audience. Don’t be bashful.

  35. Howard Beale or whatever you real name is. I know some of the people listed very well and some I do not know. As you mentioned a enemies list if I had one YOU would be at the TOP. I have read your MANY postings on MANY blogs and never have I known a person as insulting, as negative, as misleading as you. Even when Mrs Carabetta posted her sincere comments you attacked her. I truly believe you need to see a doctor to help you with your anger and hate problem.

  36. I took my Mother out to lunch this afternoon and she mentioned, that in her day one of the top candidates for County Exec. would have been Leonard Lockhart, which made me think, I left off the name of Commissioner Brian Lockhart.

    Bee, Mr. Beale, (Amato) is still upset over his lost bid for a position on the Republican Central Committee and which explains his misplaced aggression towards others.

    • Concerned Citizen Smigiel. Have you signed the Candidate Pledge to the Citizens of Maryland as presented by the Annapolis TEA Party ?

      [Sam — Note from Someone Noticed –: We’ll let your primary new point go up. But since about every possible point has been made on these exchanges between a few people, they’re becoming redundant so we removed that portion. Redundant comments aren’t bringing anything new to the discussion, pro or con, except those people directly talking to each other through this medium.

      We recognize the need to let points both pro and con get posted and we’re doing that. It’s good to question things and take other points of view. Poking at politicians is fine too, as long as it’s reasonably civil and doesn’t become reptitive. Any politican needs to know that their judgements will be questioned, in reasonably civil ways. It’s good for the governmental process and creates a check and balance.

      Anyway, mostly because of the redudancy since the political barbs have already been shot back and forth a few times, we’ll ask for comments on other points. Something on the subject would be great or on the pros and cons of charter. We’ll be publishing more on charter as this story gets settled. Thanks
      [Somone Noticed]

    • When you make up stories to support your agenda, at least read what you have written for continuity and timeline consistency.

      You post at 10:17 am and then start your fantasy…”I took my Mother out to lunch this afternoon”…

      [[Note from Someone Noticed — Thanks for posting your comment, we;ve allowed part of it to go so reader’s may see the core of what you were saying. But since about every possible point has been made on these exchanges between a few people, they’re becoming redundant. They also aren’t bringing anything new to the discussion, pro or con, except those people directly talking to each other through this medium.

      We recognize the need to let points both pro and con get posted and we’re doing that. It’s good to question things and take other points of view. Poking at politicians is fine too, as long as it’s reasonably civil. Any politican needs to know that their judgements will be questioned, in reasonably civil ways.

      Anyway, mostly because of the redudancy since the political barbs have already been shot back and forth a few times, we’ll ask for comments on other points. Something on the subject would be great or on the pros and cons of charter. We’ll be publishing more on charter as this story gets settled. Thanks
      [Somone Noticed]

      • Raoul I noticed the same time question on one of my posting. I posted my comment 10/4 at 5:41 p.m. a reply came back 10/4 3:10 p.m.. So the reply came 2hours 31 minutes before my comment. I no longer depend on the posting time just the comments. Thanks

  37. Andi Smigiel (Bee/ Concerned Citizen) I know that you are driven by job security. Keep holding on.

    • Howard Beale .As usual you are incorrect. I am not Andi nor have I ever met Andi. As to job security I already have a full time job thank you,
      and it has nothing to do with politics.Your statement “Keep Holding on” doesn’t make any sense. What should I keep holding on to? But then most of your remarks do NOT make any sense either.If it were not for your calling people by the wrong names, or your attacks, or your insults you would have nothing to write. Try writing about issues .Me the Bee says to you keep holding on I think you know what the remainder of my statement would be.

  38. [Note from the blog

    Bee: Thanks for posting your comment, but since about every possible point has been made on these exchanges between a few people, they’re becoming redundant. They also aren’t brining anything new to the discussion, pro or con, except those people directly talking to each other through this medium.

    We recognize the need to let points both pro and con get posted and we’re doing that. It’s good to question things and take other points of view. Poking at politicians is fine too, as long as it’s reasonably civil. Any politican needs to know that their judgements will be questioned, in reasonably civil ways.

    Anyway, mostly because of the redudancy since the political barbs have already been shot back and forth a few times, we’ll ask for comments on other points. Something on the subject would be great or on the pros and cons of charter. We’ll be publishing more on charter as this story gets settled. Thanks
    [Somone Noticed]

    • Mike, I understand what you are saying. But, what I do not understand is allowing (example) Howard Beale to name Delegate Smigiel as the person that writes every opinion or reply. If Howard Beale wants to post his opinion fine. But all of his AKA’s referring they are Delegate Smigiel or anyone on his team is not fair. Especially when he is usually incorrect.Unless Howard Beale or any other writers know for sure who is posting then they should not be allowed to name/blame anyone.Thanks for all the information you give us. Keep up the great work

  39. Bee:
    Thanks. Your point is understood too. There’s a judgement call on what we let go up and we try to make sure that things that are critical of either side (or us) are allowed to go up. A little humor, a litlte eddgy is fine too in keeping with the norms of the Net. Poking at politicians some is a good thing, too, as long as it’s reasonably civil.

  40. Not to get into the nastiness back and forth, but just a point of law and fact: The Friends of Charter are a “issue committee” or “ballot issue Committee” under state election law. Some people have erroneously called them a “political Action committee” or a “political committee.” There are big differences in fact and the law.

    A “political action committee” is set up to make donations directly to a political candidate’s campaign committee. The charter issue group is not such a PAC, either in fact or law.
    State election law treats “issue committees” or “ballot issue committees” very differently– such committees are involved in speaking out, as in First Amendment protected speech, for or against a matter of public policy.
    It is erroneous to assert that the charter ballot issue panel is a “political committee” or PAC under state law, with the various rules and filing requi4rements of such status.
    Precise language matters….

  41. Louise:

    Thanks for sharing your observations.

    While not the best source, here’s the way Wikipedia puts it for those needing to get a basic grasp for non-technical, legal discussion or use in the blogsphere: “In the United States, a Political Action Committee, or PAC, is the name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Legally, what constitutes a “PAC” for purposes of regulation is a matter of state and federal law. . . .”

    Agree, they’re certainly not, under MD election law a PAC, but are listed by the board of electionas as a special issues committee.

    If one were preparing a legal brief on the matter for court, writing an ethics c0mplaint, or getting a submission ready for review by the State of Maryland, they’d definitely want to use the precise legal language found in Black’s Law Dictionary, the OED (that’s not the office of Economic Development), the Dictionary of Political Science and/or those defintions found in COMAR, but that’s not what one does in the blogosphere.

    The group, Friends of Charter, is trying to sway the opinon of Cecil County voters on an important question. Through it’s billboards, print advertising and other promotions, it hopes to convince voters to change the form of local government, an important public policy question here.

    BTW, making sure that the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of this question get a fair airing is important so voters are informed.

  42. The questions of how County employees behaved is all that matters. Why is a branch of county gov’t. authorizing county dollars (over $8,000) to be spent on a private sector, non profit, whose mission is the passage of a political question?

    Do the commissioner’s allow all their dept. heads to spend tax dollars on any nonprofit they so choose? If there are restrictions, what are they?

    Did the head of the economic development go through the proper channels and have the commissioner’s vote to do this? Was it all authorized by the commissioners and that is why they are so quiet on everything?

    I think there are a lot of questions to be answered. This good-ole boy behind closed doors dealing has got to stop. If Charter removes all the checks and balances and operates like this, then why would I want to vote fot it?

  43. Concerned Citizen:

    We too think this raises troubling questions. Local government shouldn’t
    be involved in aiding a group that is trying to influence voter decisions at the polls. It doesn’t matter whether the group is trying to sway people to vote for or against a ballot question or a favored candidate, local government should not aid any group seeking to get voters to cast a ballot one way or the other.
    When we first heard about this, it immediately struck us as something you don’t want to happen.

    We’ve said this before, but in the fog of the comments section, it’s worth repeating. If we were the Friends group and a government dept approached us about an opportunity to raise funds for a campaign, we’d say thanks but it’s better that we maintain a firewall between the county and our group, as we urge voters to say yes to the ballot question. It’ll just take us off topic and create suspicions and noise so we’ll go out our raise our money independent of any connection with county government. But that obviously wasn’t what the Friends of Charter thought.

    Of course, Concerned Citizen, you realize, you’re going to get Raoul, Diogense, Howard Beal, and perhaps a few others started again fretting about what Senator Pipkin and Delegate Smigiel are going to do with this news. We would hope more people would see the need to keep local government out of supporting political groups, and focused on the professional tasks they’re assigned. If the county hadn’t been involved, they wouldn’t have to worry about the Senator and the Delegate on this matter since that seems to have more of the attention of selected readers providing comments, than the question about supporting thse groups

    Seems rather obvious to us.

  44. I have a few questions and comments. Why is the office of Economic Development’s director Vernon Thompson so involved with BRAC tours? I was always under the impresssion the Economic Development department’s main focus should be to bring industries and business for jobs to Cecil County – not to arrange bus tours. Mr Thompson’s salary is approximately $130,000 per year, maybe more plus many benefits. His priority should be why Cecil County has not received any of the business or industries that is associated with BRAC. Why have they all gone to Harford County? What is the real reason the tours were not turned over to Tourism? Mr Thompson stating the staff was “too small” is not an acceptable answer. Tourism is more than capable of seeking qualified volunteers. Mr Thompson also used the excuse “short of time”. All he had to do was walk down the hall or use the intercom (phone). How long does that take? Why wasn’t commissioner
    Robert Hodge aware of this problem? Hodge is the ex-officio member to the Economic Development Department. Being ex-officio means the commissioner appointed should be abreast of all problems and business the department is addressing and to inform all county commissions what has been discussed. Did Hodge do his job and inform all the commissioners and they just looked the other way? Was Hodge not available? Why did Thompson use the “short time” to call the realtors and Friends of Charter instead of the Cecil County commissioner’s office or Tourism?
    Our tax dollars are being spent here in one form or another. We deserve a lot more accountable answers from all of those listed above.

    • Bee….Buzz to your last paragraph. Try to keep up with the breaking news. No tax dollars were spent. Do you want answers or to promote your political agenda ?

      • Beale, Read again I said in one form or another. Is Thompson’s salary of $130,000.00 per year plus benefits not taxpayers money? Is the phone calls he made not taxpayers money? The breaking news is why almost all the large donations came from outside Cecil County(developers). What do they expect to gain from donating such a large amount of money? Have you ever heard Paybacks can be —-. Could it mean —- for the Cecil County Citizens.The only political agenda I have is to vote.In your own sligh way you refer that I am Smigiel . You are wrong but THANKS I take that as a compliment.

        • So if any political contribution from outside Cecil County or the District including Cecil County is received by a candidate the donor is expecting a payback ?

  45. Bee:
    The bus tours are NOT for tourism purposes. They ARE for economic development. Also lending a hand in BRAC has been the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce.

    Bee, when situations arise that need an immediate decision, fortunately there are people in this county that step up. They are there and have been there many times contributing time and money. Have You?

    Tourism does not get it. You do not get it. Tourism will not bring the kinds of jobs to Cecil County that will help to relieve property owners of the tax bill. Tourism brings tourists who visit, have a bite to eat, maybe buy a trinket or memento, and go home. That is because they are tourists.

    Cecil County Office of tourism is about restaurants, accommodations, attractions, shopping, events, coupons, wedding planning, recreation, etc. They are located in the nearly vacant Perryville outlets (isn’t that a beautiful, successful attraction to draw new business?).

    Quoting Bee “His priority should be why Cecil County has not received any of the business or industries that is associated with BRAC.”
    No Bee, his priority should be to make sure that Cecil County is presented to business and industry. We are in the heart of the Science and Technology Corridor.

    Quoting Bee further, “Why have they all gone to Harford County?”
    Well, Bee, did you ever think that Harford County is more business/industry attractive? Perhaps HC provides incentives. Possibly, that HC has infrastructure in place and understands its importance.

    Until this county takes control of and guides growth, we will be left behind. Growth will happen whether we like it or not. It cannot be stopped. If we want to keep the beautiful character of Cecil County, it is time to get in front. One look at Middletown, Delaware should scare the bejeebers out of any Ceciltonian.

    The Tech Corridor between 40 and 95 is ideal for industry growth and we can retain the beautiful character of Cecil County.

    • Raoul, I read your reply. Infact you made my point as to why hasn’t Vernon Thompson brought jobs to Cecil County.Not just BRAC but any business or industry. The man makes a hugh salary and what has he accomplished? Tourism does get it . When it comes to tours who is more informed than they are? Their job is a lot more than telling people where to eat, sleep and shop.Your statement until this county takes control of and guides growth etc. Is that not the job of Economic Development dept. Mr Thompson ? Lets see what Mr Mike’s next posting says.Thanks for your interesting reply/ opinion

      • Bee, Mr. Thompson cannot offer incentives that do not exist. He cannot put infrastructure in place.

        Why? Because our current form of government, and those that ‘represent us’ in Annapolis do not understand what it takes to attract business.
        Charter Government will put the tools in place for us to take control of our County. A county executive, elected by us and responsible to us, can make things happen here.

        Those that understand the importance of Charter know this. They are not in it for personal gain. They are people who have volunteered countless hours and finances into, not only this issue, but also in trying to make Cecil County an attractive community to live. They are sick and tired that we are still the forgotten Maryland County.

        The Department of Economic Development cannot change the anti-growth, no-growth, no-change attitudes so rooted in Cecil soil.

        We must have developers from outside this county for growth. We need industry from outside this county. We need Charter to put our future in our hands. Local issues. Local vote. Democracy here, not dictated to us from Annapolis.

  46. Beale, You continue to take every thing I say out of context. Charter is a very important issue for Cecil County . I would very much appreciate an answer as to WHY out of county developers donated that much money to Cecil County. It seem a fair and simple question. I am tired of your game playing and I believe it is only because you dislike Delegate Smigiel so much and you think I am him.As Mr. Mike has say many times stick to the issues So I will respect his request and not continue a long battle with you.It helps no one.

    • Since I am not an out of county developer I can’t answer the question. Raoul makes a lot of sense to me. I suggest you read his latest post. Seems as though you are obsessed with Vernon Thompson, Robert Hodge, and Friends of Charter. There is no substance to claims that the BRAC trip cost the county any taxpayer money. The volunteers who created the tour should be congratulated for their efforts on behalf of our citizens.

  47. I see the blogosphere has been very busy over on this old post on a fine Monday evening by the Chesapeake Bay, with the normal gang that carries on conversations and exchanges while taking shots at each other. I scanned them quickly on the PDA as they came in just to make sure they were safe to go up and now I have a few mintues to read over them more carefully.
    I’m not sure which of you said it (Bee, Raoul, or Howard), but on this point I have to agree. There really needs to be a serious examination of the pros and cons for charter, something in depth with some professionally challenging debate. I can’t imagine either paper will allocate the resources to develop that and the Guardian is actively involved in pushing for charter.
    If I were the involved group on this charter issue, I’d try to put this thing behind me so I could focus on my advocacy, rather than arguing about whether the county is involved in sponsoring bus tours and about the financial matters.
    The question is not about the volunteers and the nonprofits that helped with these tours. The very basic question is should our government be selecting a group seeking to influence an election as a bus tour host, a situation that’s going to make a profit for that campaign. For us, we definitely don’t think so, whether it pro or anti charter or for some politician You don’t want your government involved in those things, and we’re absolutely surprised with this turn of events.
    Commissoner Hodge had similiar remarks this morning as he noted the commissioners knew absolutely nothing about the bus tour. He also wondered why a political advocacy group handled this tour and why this tour was the one that made a profit when the others were revenue neutral for stakeholders as far as we know. He also expressed his disappointment that county government would be linked to a political group.
    You folks all play nice with each other over on this old weblog post and from the blosphere I’ll keep a cautious eye on things to make sure we’re all doing okay.
    We will get to the strengths and weakness of charter someday. It’s just that the county keeps surprising us with more twists and news. Now it is an examination of whether the county ever had some involvement with bus tours. That’s another surprise if you read all the marketing literature, web sites, newspaper reports, recent quotes, and so on. And of course lots of it was done by volunteers and nonprofits, but someone had to coordinate with the Army and make sure those qualified volunteers were there ready to go.
    BTW, Economic Devleopment might be surprised about how many absolutely qualified volunteers are out there and would step forward if they knew that kind of money could be turned over to their favorite nonprofit. These volunteers have long-time track records of delivering and carrying through on many, many things. Sometimes we prefer to look inward for whatever reason.

    • Mike, “you folks play nice” every time I post it seems to cause a sore spot to Raoul and Beale. As I said before I do believe they think I am Delegate Smigiel. So for the sake of your readers my last post will be I stand by all my remarks/opinions. Be sure to Vote everyone

      • So long Bee. I look forward to your same opinions posted under a brand new alias. Meanwhile, review your posts to see your targets and count how many times you have slammed them.

  48. Bee:
    Raoul, Beale, Howard, and a few others sure do focus on Senator Pipkin and Delegate Smigiel, don’t they! Surely there’s some arguments to be made about the strengths of switching our form of government to charter, other than the continued citing of the Senator and the Delegate. We’re going to start our own review of this shortly. That is if we can put to rest how the financial aspects of the campaign as it concerns the coutny came to be. We thought we were done, but it took a new twist when the county announced it was never involved in bus tours. That was a real surprise! But since campaign financing is an important part of understanding things, especially the money trail supporting attempts to get votes, we’ll stick with that too for it can be sorted out.

    Surely the county or someone will step forward with a definitive statement and say here’s what happened and get this over with, rather than make it more confusing as time goes on. In our earlier interviews with department representatives (in both cases) we discussed how it was that the Friends became the hosts of this particular tour.

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