The Flim Flam Man: Blaine Young on Citizens and Montevue

Last Spring, the Frederick Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted to privatize the county owned Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center (CCRC) and the Montevue Assisted Living facility (MALF). The commissioners decided to sell the facilities and 7.5 acres of land to Aurora Holdings, LLC. In July, 2013, the citizens group “Save Montevue” filed suit in Circuit Court to stop the sale, challenging the sale on a number of grounds.

In January, 2014, the Court heard the county’s motion for summary judgment on all of the Plaintiffs’ six charges. In March, the judge’s ruling dismissed two of the counts and scheduled a January, 2015, trial on the remaining four.

From the March 19th, 2014 Press Release from the firm (Powell Flynn LLP) representing the plaintiffs:

The Court refused to strike down the restrictive covenant in the 1828 deed transferring the Brunner farm property to the County that states the land is to be used, “for the benefit of the poor of said county, and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever.” Judge Adams found that the language was not “ambiguous in the slightest” and “thus running with the land”. The Court held that there “is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether the sale of CCRC/MAL facilities are in derogation of the restrictive covenant established in the deed of 1828 from Elias Brunner to Frederick County.” The Court did dismiss two counts of the plaintiff’s complaint but the majority of plaintiffs’ claims will proceed.

The commissioners have since petitioned the court for a separate hearing on just one issue — the validity of the Montevue deed (count four of the original complaint) which requires the property be used for the exclusive benefit of the poor. A hearing has not been scheduled on the government’s latest motion but it could be held in June.

The deed is key to the legal challenge, and could, if upheld by the Court, prevent the sale.

Blaine Young

Blaine Young

It now appears that BOCC President Blaine Young has adopted a new tactic. He wants to sell the land, separate from the facilities on the land, thinking this would be a way to avoid violating the deed’s restrictive covenant.

We think that’s a rather tenuous argument. At the same time, it’s obvious that Commissioner President Young intends to proceed with the privatization. He has already contracted with Aurora to manage the facilities and (effective May 1) terminated the government’s separate contracts with all vendors, including Morrison (food services) and Levendale (vent unit). He has all but completed the process of “transitioning” some 200 County employees to Aurora. We expect imminent layoffs of senior county managers and skilled nursing staff. These announcements may come soon, perhaps as soon as of May 1.

Blaine’s New Plan? “We’re Talking about Selling the Land”

At the regular Tuesday meeting of the BOCC this week, Commissioner President Blaine Young raised the matter of Montevue as part of “Administrative Business,” reporting that the transfer to Aurora will proceed, contingent only upon the financing and state-issued permits.

David Gray

David Gray

Commissioner David Gray interjected, before Commissioner Young could move on the next items on his list, to say that the questions from employees about benefits have not been answered, and he asked if there is a “date certain” for the transition.

Soon after that (starting around the 32 minute mark), former Board of Trustees members Vince Parmesano and Sonja Sperlich, followed by former Commissioners President Jan Gardner, ask important questions and raised some relevant and important issues.

Former Board of Trustees members Vince Parmesano and Sonja Sperlich, and former Commissioners President Jan Gardner

Former Board of Trustees members Vince Parmesano and Sonja Sperlich,
and former Commissioners President Jan Gardner

Jan Gardner: Rumors abound that there will be a “transition” later this week. Can you state that there will be no change in the management or a sale of the facilities?

Blaine Young: Finish your public comment and I’ll answer your questions.

Jan Gardner: Can we get a copy of Aurora’s management contract? Will you be terminating the contracts with the other outside vendors and certain employees, such as the facility psychiatrist?

Billy Shreve

Billy Shreve

As Gardner finished her questions, Commissioner Billy Shreve asked her, ‘Did your Board establish a business plan for these facilities? Did you do a financial analysis? (Last week, Save Montevue pointed out that the current Board has done neither of these, with respect to the Aurora deal.)

Around the 40 minute mark…

Blaine Young: We voted to sell the facilities and contract the management to Aurora. We’ve met with the employees. They know the “transaction” is taking place. We are moving forward with the sale.

Blaine Young (continuing): When? We were hoping yesterday. When Stan Snow has the financing and the permits, the “transaction” will move forward. Until then, we’re on day-to-day.

David Gray: The Maryland Board of Public Works has refused to approve the sale. Thus, Aurora will be getting a clouded deed.

Blaine Young: That’s Aurora’s decision, not ours. You’re mixing apples and oranges. We’re talking about selling the land.

To watch the portion of the meeting described above, CLICK HERE.

If that doesn’t work for you, CLICK HERE; go to “Archived Meetings,” click “Board of County Commissioners,” and select the “Video” option for the “Administrative Business” meeting on 04/29/14.

Frederick News Post coverage of the meeting:
Date uncertain for Citizens, Montevue sale
April 30, 2014