The Cecil Whig’s op/ed section continued the serialized report card for county commissioners today, as the “citizen columnist” turned his attention to grading individual board members. The paper’s first installment awarded the board a “generous grade of D.” Today’s report cards, which were handed out for Commissioners Demmler, Mullin, and Tome, were predictable to anyone following the writer’s work and having a little insight into the rumors associated with Republican Party politics here. While we are not sure about the assessment’s validity, we noted one particularly harsh appraisal that doesn’t support anything we’ve seen. Of course, we may not have all the information the political party insiders have, but it does cause us to wonder about the reliability of the other grades. On the assessment of Commissioner Demmler, Mr. Cochrane mentioned that she had “quiet limited life experiences and, therefore, a very limited personal background . . . .” in areas of expertise needed by the political leadership. To that he adds something about “limited intellectual curiosity” on the issues she does not understand, combined with an “unwillingness to do the necessary homework to better understand” issues.
That is not the official we’ve observed and the Whig writer is able to see something that’s not obvious to a neutral observer. Whenever we’ve seen her consider an issue, we believe she’s examined it carefully, listening to people and doing whatever level of independent researcher supports a critical examination. We’ve always been impressed with how open she was to listening to other viewpoints, being open to meeting with people, and in considering responses she’d heard from her constituents. We think she’s one of the hardest working officials we’ve seen in the Cecil County for some time.
We recall a time almost a year ago during a tense, painful hearing about the new tax rate in Charlestown. A large unfriendly audience attended the meeting, strongly making the point about the need to cut taxes. It had to be hard for officials to sit through that (whatever you thought about their actions). When it was over and the board voted to add a few more expenditures to the budget, Commissioner Demmler read a statement to the crowd, explaining her action. It wasn’t well received, but we listened to the response, which was logical and clear. No indication there, of any problems with “intellectual” capability. Others, as I recall, said almost nothing, except when it came time to spend a little more money. Then they voted for that.
On Someone Noticed, we’ll do the disclaimer thing right here since the Whig doesn’t do it for subscribers, leaving us to fill in the knowledge gaps with rumors. Our politics tend toward progressive and Commissioner Demmler’s perspective on the role of government is far different than ours. (Actually in Cecil County we tend to be more independent since neither of the local parties represents our views.) We’re not in leadership roles with either party, whether it’s the central committees or the numerous clusters of people constituting splinter groups in the Republican Party. (With all those committees the Republicans have you’d think they’d have things firmly under control!) As for being a strong supporter of any of the commissioners as they managed the campaigns, that’s not something we’ve done either. Oh wait, just to be fair, we did make a small donation to Ms. Weygand, Commissioner Hodge’s opponent.
While it is great to have insightful local content, including opinion pieces, the daily newspaper should fully disclose substantial matters such as when someone is a member of the central committee, a leader in the one of committees or a central part of the campaign for one of the officials. There’s nothing wrong with these roles as long as the subscribers are informed, particularly since the Whig was our only media outlet (until the blogs came along). We need that disclosure to help readers evaluate the source. Also, provide other perspectives. Surely there are other qualified writers in the county and the daily paper could call on some other views so we readers would have a range of opinions. Or couldn’t some of the professional staff write hard hitting political opinion pieces?
Oh for next week, we’ll go out on a limb here since we think the results are predictable. Last time, when the writer got involved in assessing the performance of Commissioner Hodge, he told us that “Commissioner Hodge was capable of handling the situation.” Okay, Okay so we get it from the columnist’s perspective, he’s the only capable one. Though we must tell you this gets our “intellectual curiosity” up. The rumor mill is full of things about this situation, but we wonder what’s the “rest of the story?” Were there some votes that were opposed are something, that’s causing this reaction? Does it connect, somehow, with the SPCA mess? We’ll continue to listen and if we come up with something substantial we’ll let you know.