President Lockhart: No Wrongdoing, County Never Picked Any Organization, But 18% of BRAC Workers, Making Just Under Six-Figures, Have Located in Cecil Co.

Tuesday the Cecil County Commissioners released the board’s findings concerning questions about how a BRAC bus tour was handed off to a group that used the activity to finance a campaign to sway voters on a ballot question.  Saying that it found no wrongdoing, the board said it has never “picked any organization to conduct BRAC tours” and “Economic Development played no part in the tours.”  Additionally, “the county has no knowledge of any revenues” as the organization listed with the Maryland Board of Elections, Friends of Cecil County Charter, sought contributions from home builders, realtors and insurance companies to sponsor the visit.

The letter signed by President Brian Lockhart stressed the success of the tours and the importance of that outcome to the area’s economy.  “Of the 2,405 employees transferred thus far, 439 or 18% of the transferees from Ft. Monmouth have decided to reside in Cecil County.”  These new residents have “average yearly salaries just under six figures.”   This  was accomplished “without expenditures of county funds.”

The inquiries from Someone Noticed related to determining local governments involvement with the arrangement started at the end of September.  As the weeks went by, the matter grew more tangled while also escalating in local political circles.  One complicating element  was Economic Development’s statement that it didn’t do bus tours.  That didn’t reconcile with our long-time understanding about the county’s BRAC marketing effort as local government speeches, published accounts and websites often include remarks how successful the county is with its marketing effort.  We thus asked for more information to help sort out the separation, thinking that by discussing it with federal, state or military BRAC coordinators we’d have a better understanding.  That wasn’t possible the county told us, nor was there any written  correspondence with anyone concerning tours!

Finally, in a well-attended workshop last Tuesday, with print media outlets present and video cameras rolling, the county commissioners publicly examined the questions.  Camcorders captured it second-by-second but afterwards clips were selectively shared on the web.  As those outtakes, illustrated points supporting this or that (depending on one’s view about the matter), it caused one Cecil Whig subscriber to call the newspaper to see if they could purchase the entire recording so an entire airing of the contentious meeting could be had.  That way everyone could see what happened without it being filtered by any print reporters or bloggers, whatever their point of view about pinning down basic questions related to the county’s involvement in handing off bus tours. (The daily paper had captured the entire meeting on camera and shown a few selected minutes on its website.)

Although we didn’t have a video of the meeting, we linked  to a YouTube segment a few days afterwards as some readers questioned why we said President Lockhart wanted to know if having the Friends return the money would resolve the problem.  That footage showed where our quotes came from.  There are plenty of other links out there, but another one we covered was Commissioner Hodge’s remarks as he concluded things:  ”I think Senator Pipkin’s points are well taken.  Things could have been done different.  I wish they were done differently. . . .” 

The letter from President Brian Lockhart details the county’s conclusion, there was no “wrongdoing.”  The county merely used its e-mail address as the contact point for the bus tour President Lockhart worte, as it has done for all the earlier visits since 2007.  It “is a service we have provided to all organization’s conducting tours,”  the president of the board wrote.

One web site that resulted in questions about county involvement with tours.


6 responses to “President Lockhart: No Wrongdoing, County Never Picked Any Organization, But 18% of BRAC Workers, Making Just Under Six-Figures, Have Located in Cecil Co.

  1. Now that is what I call efficiency in Gov’t! Do an investigation of yourself and your staff, exonerate yourself and mention how you and your staff should have been canonized for being creative in financing the Friends of Charter.

    Let’s see, over $8,000 is paid by out of county and out of State developers for a tour of Cecil County. The tour only costs two thousand dollars and the Friends of Charter get to keep over $6,000 that would have otherwise went to the County had they given the tour. The Army contacted the County employee on a county web site, where the County brags about giving over 100 BRAC tours.

    It is wrong for the County to be involved with promoting or opposing a ballot question but the County Seal appears all over the pro-charter friends of Charter billboards and Ads.

    I guess Commissioner Lockhart’s bumper sticker should read “Its not a conflict of interest if it does not conflict with my interest”

    Shame on the County Commissioners for not having the integrity to stop unethical good ole boy politics when they see it. I was for Charter till I saw the cover up published here today. Thank you Mr. Dixon for exposing the corruption and arrogance of our county commissioners.

    On second thought lets just pass Charter so we can elect Vernon Thompson
    County Executive and cut out the middle men.

    • Conflict of INTEREST on everything – Mr Lockhart. After getting the ball rolling secretly on Artesian Deal – Mr. Lockhart doesn’t vote because of conflict of interest. What a JOKE. Mr Lockhart were you not guilty of an ethic violation? I believe you were. Oh – forgot , doesn’t County Commissioners pick people on Ethic Violation Board? Yes they do. And nothing happened to ya! LOL! WOW !!! You “didn’t know” that working for and owning stock at Cecil Federal was wrong? TIME TO GO IN NOVEMBER 2, 2010 !!! NOW —– a scandal on the BRAC tours? Has your father in-law builder given a money to Charter Gov.? It will be nice if you can make county laws to help your pocket out. Maybe you and Al can run things? Like father Like son !!!! TOSS THIS BUM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I know nothing except that your explanation makes no sense. That bus tour made a big profit for the election campaign. Brian knew nothing. He didn’t give it to anyone.
    Someone Noticed knows nothing. No one knows nothing.
    I know nothing. I see nothing. I say nothing.

    Sgt. Schultz

    • Commissioner Demmler was correct in her statement that this was politically motivated. I have seen the expensive mailers and full page ads paid for by the Smigiel and Pipkin campaign committees. All featuring false statements. Concerned Citizen must be the “constituent” who always seems alarmed and concerned over an issue that benefits Smigiel.

    • Sgt. Schultz:

      It wasn’t our explanation, it was the explanation provided by the county commissioners once the board completed its fact-finding.

      The questions were about how much county government was involved in marketing, coordinating, and supporting the tour and how it was handed off to Friends of charter.

      Here is how the county finally responded and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t involved in selecting and/or supporting a political group.

      After saying “The county has not picked any organizaiton to conduct BRAC tours, they added these details. Economic Development met with its contacts at Fort Monmouth and came back from there with one last request for a bus tour. Back in Elkton, they discussed it and decided that since the chamber of commerce wasn’t available someone else would have to handle it. So a private citizen experienced with the tour process stepped forward to assume the obligation. Once it was handed over to the individual all decisions about the tour no longer involved the county. Thus the decision to allow the Friends of Cecil County Charter to use it as a fundraiser was made without the involvement of Economic Development. “Friends of Charter was never an issue or point of discussion,” with the department they write.

      That’s the county’s findings after completing its investigation.

  3. Chuck…Take a deep breath. You must be exhausted from preparing all those campaign finance reports.

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