Facts on county budget, please

Frederick News Post
Bob White
08/04/2013
Enough misdirection is enough! Citizens deserve facts about the county budget, not hazy self-serving propaganda. ... The Young board has cut over 200 fees and taxes — primarily to benefit of the development and building industry. Most county taxpayers will not experience a benefit from these fee reductions. In many instances, there are still county costs to cover development review and inspection of projects. These costs have been shifted to the backs of county taxpayers. This means the taxpayer is now paying for the cost of permits and inspection for development projects that previously have been covered by user fees. The public deserves facts, not fiction about the budget and taxes. Look at your recently mailed property tax bill. Look at the annual county budget summaries. Spending and your tax bills have gone up! I guess this is the Young board just doing what it promised!

Interested buyer to begin running Citizens, Montevue

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/31/2013
The county-owned nursing and assisted living homes are set to see a change in management this week, as the company interested in buying the facilities gets a jump-start on running them. On Thursday, Aurora Health Management will take the reins at Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living on a month-to-month contract that is expected to last until the Millersville-based company purchases the two facilities. County commissioners on June 25 voted to sell the centers to Aurora for $30 million. Aurora will take over for LW Consulting, a Pennsylvania business that has managed Citizens and Montevue for more than 18 months. The county has agreed to pay Aurora $50,000 per month to run the facilities and head up everything from purchasing to health care reporting.

TransIT accepting input on proposed taxi voucher program

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
07/27/2013
As the time for public comment on TransIT's proposed taxi voucher program comes to a close, director Nancy Norris wants to keep the conversation focused on service, not controversy. Some people, like Emmitsburg resident Catherine Forrence, have doubts about the proposal that would allow elderly or disabled residents to buy $10 debit cards pre-loaded with $60 for cab fare. Forrence emailed Pat Rosensteel, director of the county Citizen Services Division, stating that taxis are not an adequate substitute for TransIT-plus service because of the complications surrounding liability for riders in wheelchairs and other issues.

Citizens, Montevue sale opponents take cause to court

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/25/2013
Opponents of privatizing the local government-owned nursing and assisted living centers say they have launched a legal challenge against Frederick County for its decision to sell the facilities. A copy of the petition for judicial review shows it was filed Tuesday in Circuit Court by five Frederick County residents. One lives at the assisted living center. The one-paragraph document did not lay out the petitioners’ reasons for taking legal action, but their attorney provided additional context in a letter to state officials. In the correspondence to the Maryland Board of Public Works, the attorney raised several issues about the June 25 public hearing where commissioners voted 4-1 to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. “The evidence at the hearing was contrary to the BOCC’s blanket assertion that the property was no longer needed for any public use,” Leslie Powell wrote in the July 23 letter. “Particularly troubling to the public was the fact that the BOCC members had already made up their minds and stated their intended vote prior to the hearing.”

Voting history shows power of Young’s bloc

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/21/2013
Commissioners President Blaine Young says there's no point in denying the existence of a Frederick County voting bloc led by him. "I'm not going to run from the obvious," he says. For many, the four-commissioner alliance becomes particularly obvious during hot-button decisions, such as when the county decided to give up control of the local Head Start program. When officials approved an overhaul of fire and rescue funding. And when they sealed the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Commissioner David Gray has been a voice of dissent from his seat on the panel's right flank, but in each of these decisions, he has been alone. From their first motion more than two-and-a-half years ago to the June 25 hearing on the future of Citizens and Montevue, the commissioners have cast 1,273 votes. The bulk of those, more than two-thirds, were unanimous decisions, many about routine issues. But Gray has been in the minority for almost 78 percent of the split votes and has acted as the sole dissenter in 269 of the decisions.

Voting history shows power of Young's bloc

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/21/2013
Commissioners President Blaine Young says there's no point in denying the existence of a Frederick County voting bloc led by him. "I'm not going to run from the obvious," he says. For many, the four-commissioner alliance becomes particularly obvious during hot-button decisions, such as when the county decided to give up control of the local Head Start program. When officials approved an overhaul of fire and rescue funding. And when they sealed the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Commissioner David Gray has been a voice of dissent from his seat on the panel's right flank, but in each of these decisions, he has been alone. From their first motion more than two-and-a-half years ago to the June 25 hearing on the future of Citizens and Montevue, the commissioners have cast 1,273 votes. The bulk of those, more than two-thirds, were unanimous decisions, many about routine issues. But Gray has been in the minority for almost 78 percent of the split votes and has acted as the sole dissenter in 269 of the decisions.

Choosing Young’s adventure [and] Legislators get low marks from group [and] Center sale opponents organize rally

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/19/2013
A state environmental scorecard for 2013 was released this week, and a couple of Frederick County legislators scored zeros. Sen. David Brinkley was one of the two local lawmakers who failed to win (any) points with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2013. But Brinkley says it is important to consider how the league arrived at its evaluation about this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly. Lawmakers were penalized for opposing a gas tax increase and working to delay a requirement that certain counties create a stormwater fee. “They can call themselves about conservation, but they’re not. They’re about an agenda of increased taxation,” said Brinkley, R-District 4. While Brinkley and Delegate Kelly Schulz, R-District 4A, both got the lowest possible grades from the league, some higher scorers weren’t happy with the report, either. Sen. Ron Young, who earned a 71 percent score from the group, said he thinks the organization dropped the ball this year. Young’s scores suffered because he didn’t vote on the offshore wind bill and supported the agricultural certainty bill, which gives farmers who voluntarily follow certain practices a 10-year exemption from new state and local environmental regulations. Young said he is upset that the league didn’t back his legislation to create low-interest loans for building green homes. “I would downgrade them,” said Young, D-District 3. “I think they had their heads in the sand.” Young and Delegate Galen Clagett, D-District 3A, tied for the delegation’s highest score, and the grades take a pretty sharp downturn from there. Delegate Donald Elliott, R-District 4B, received a 50-percent score; Delegate Patrick Hogan, R-District 3A, got 43 percent; Delegate Michael Hough, R-District 3B, got a 25 percent; and Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4A, got a 20 percent.

Choosing Young's adventure [and] Legislators get low marks from group [and] Center sale opponents organize rally

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/19/2013
A state environmental scorecard for 2013 was released this week, and a couple of Frederick County legislators scored zeros. Sen. David Brinkley was one of the two local lawmakers who failed to win (any) points with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2013. But Brinkley says it is important to consider how the league arrived at its evaluation about this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly. Lawmakers were penalized for opposing a gas tax increase and working to delay a requirement that certain counties create a stormwater fee. “They can call themselves about conservation, but they’re not. They’re about an agenda of increased taxation,” said Brinkley, R-District 4. While Brinkley and Delegate Kelly Schulz, R-District 4A, both got the lowest possible grades from the league, some higher scorers weren’t happy with the report, either. Sen. Ron Young, who earned a 71 percent score from the group, said he thinks the organization dropped the ball this year. Young’s scores suffered because he didn’t vote on the offshore wind bill and supported the agricultural certainty bill, which gives farmers who voluntarily follow certain practices a 10-year exemption from new state and local environmental regulations. Young said he is upset that the league didn’t back his legislation to create low-interest loans for building green homes. “I would downgrade them,” said Young, D-District 3. “I think they had their heads in the sand.” Young and Delegate Galen Clagett, D-District 3A, tied for the delegation’s highest score, and the grades take a pretty sharp downturn from there. Delegate Donald Elliott, R-District 4B, received a 50-percent score; Delegate Patrick Hogan, R-District 3A, got 43 percent; Delegate Michael Hough, R-District 3B, got a 25 percent; and Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4A, got a 20 percent.

Supports the boycotts

Frederick News Post
Bob Lewis
07/17/2013
In a recent editorial, “Calls for local boycotts ill-advised,” attempts to apply economic pressure to the Frederick County Commissioners and their supporters are criticized. The editorial implies that voters should not be upset because these commissioners were “candid about their political philosophy and how they planned to proceed if elected.” They were not candid about how they would proceed. Had they been open about their plans to privatize the county workforce, sell Montevue, cut county support to Head Start and attempt to loosen ethics rules, they would have never been elected. The editorial states that some boycotts would be reasonable such as those conducted during the civil rights campaigns in the 1960s — “When the political establishment and powers that be are resolutely unresponsive to reasonable change, a boycott may be justified and necessary.” I believe that is exactly the situation we face in Frederick County. On issue after issue citizens have organized, demonstrated, and given solid, reasoned presentations, and they have been ignored, disrespected and abused by this board.

Clagett Signs on Yellow Cabs Stirs Controversy

Frederick Politics
George Wenschhof
07/16/2013
Over the weekend, Democratic candidate for mayor; Galen Clagett signs were spotted atop yellow cabs in Frederick. It did not take long for comments to begin in what promises to be a hotly contested race for mayor of The City of Frederick. Community activist Kimberly Mellon first reported on the Clagett signs with a photo on her Facebook page “One Frederick, Many Voices”. When I asked her to share her concerns, she sent me the following: “I am appalled by what appears at first glance to be Galen Clagett's campaign staff's ignorance to Interstate Mobile Advertising's (IMA) Taxi Top Ads used for sponsoring Blaine Young's rhetoric on his self-named WFMD Show.” Blaine Young is Republican President of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners and host of a daily radio show. Mellon added “I'm left pondering Clagett’s intentions. Are Clagett's and Young's stars aligned with developer’s interests? Mellon mentioned an article in The Gazette dated April 25, 2013 that said in part “The bill, introduced by Del. Galen Clagett (D-Dist. 3A) of Frederick, will prevent opponents from asking the Frederick County Board of Appeals to overturn any of the long-term pacts — called Developer Rights and Responsibilities Agreements, or DRRAs — that can be in effect for a quarter of a century.”

Returning to the subject of boycotts

Frederick News Post
07/15/2013
Our editorial questioning the boycott against businesses who advertise on Commissioner President Blaine Young's radio show got our readers' attention. Even across the Independence Day weekend, when other editorials drew online clicks in the double-digits, "Calls for local boycotts ill-advised" netted over 1,100 unique hits (the most we had on any editorial since we launched our redesigned website on April 11) and 121 comments (another record). Clearly, we provoked a strong reaction. Some of the criticism was directed at us. "FNP you have lost your mind," said alovelyplace, and in another comment, "I'm sorry for the FNP's downslide several notches on the respectability scale." stated. "This editorial is nuts" said formerfcps. "This is the most ignorant editorial from the FNP I have ever seen," said runningaddict414. "Did the brains take the day off?" "This editorial is laughable," bukweet commented. Woof. Some stiff criticism there.

With privatization's end comes a time to reflect, explain

Frederick News Post
07/14/2013
Saying there's nothing more to privatize, Commissioners President Blaine Young called it a day in a optimistically toned July 8 letter to county staff, lauding a streamlined, much-less-costly, much-less-populated county government. The controversial and unfortunate decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living "will be the last major change this Board will make," he wrote. Since 2009, the county workforce has been reduced by 25 percent -- one in every four staff -- through "layoffs, eliminating vacant positions and consolidating County divisions and departments and privatizing services." "I realize all the changes have been difficult," Young wrote. That doesn't really capture it.

With privatization’s end comes a time to reflect, explain

Frederick News Post
07/14/2013
Saying there's nothing more to privatize, Commissioners President Blaine Young called it a day in a optimistically toned July 8 letter to county staff, lauding a streamlined, much-less-costly, much-less-populated county government. The controversial and unfortunate decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living "will be the last major change this Board will make," he wrote. Since 2009, the county workforce has been reduced by 25 percent -- one in every four staff -- through "layoffs, eliminating vacant positions and consolidating County divisions and departments and privatizing services." "I realize all the changes have been difficult," Young wrote. That doesn't really capture it.

Not our county's finest hour — or five hours

Frederick News Post
Bill Pritchard
07/14/2013
ou might have already picked up on this, but there are some really rude dudes in our county. This was not the first time I’ve witnessed this, but the five-hour public hearing June 25 at Frederick Community College on the county commissioners’ decision to sell Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living was without a doubt one of the worst examples of an out-of-control local crowd I’ve seen in a long time. It started off badly when a man angrily confronted Commissioners President Blaine Young in the lobby and had to be restrained. It continued throughout the meeting with the majority anti-sale crowd forgetting they weren’t at a Frederick Keys’ game, cheering those they agreed with and booing those who had the audacity to speak their mind in favor of the sale. Either FCC or the commissioners knew what was coming -- Kussmaul Theater was generously stocked with cops that night Joining the vocal opposition was Kai Hagen, former commissioner and longtime commissioners’ critic who shouted “liar!” from his seat in response to a statement from Young towards the end of the meeting. This was an unexpected outburst from an otherwise cooler head. They had good reason to be angry, frustrated, furious, and just plain mad as hell.

Not our county’s finest hour — or five hours

Frederick News Post
Bill Pritchard
07/14/2013
ou might have already picked up on this, but there are some really rude dudes in our county. This was not the first time I’ve witnessed this, but the five-hour public hearing June 25 at Frederick Community College on the county commissioners’ decision to sell Citizens Nursing Home and Montevue Assisted Living was without a doubt one of the worst examples of an out-of-control local crowd I’ve seen in a long time. It started off badly when a man angrily confronted Commissioners President Blaine Young in the lobby and had to be restrained. It continued throughout the meeting with the majority anti-sale crowd forgetting they weren’t at a Frederick Keys’ game, cheering those they agreed with and booing those who had the audacity to speak their mind in favor of the sale. Either FCC or the commissioners knew what was coming -- Kussmaul Theater was generously stocked with cops that night Joining the vocal opposition was Kai Hagen, former commissioner and longtime commissioners’ critic who shouted “liar!” from his seat in response to a statement from Young towards the end of the meeting. This was an unexpected outburst from an otherwise cooler head. They had good reason to be angry, frustrated, furious, and just plain mad as hell.

Commission OKs concept plan for 314-home village

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/11/2013
The first round of drawings and plans for a 314-home development in Ijamsville brought the project one step closer to approval. The Frederick County Planning Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to approve the concept site plan for building Oakdale Village on roughly 52 acres north of Old National Pike and west of Eaglehead Drive. The property is sandwiched between Oakdale High School and Oakdale middle and elementary schools, and much of Wednesday's discussion related to the potential for worsening the existing traffic congestion during peak hours. Colby Hubble, who said she has lived her entire life on Old National Pike, said cars in the area of the proposed project are at a standstill for about 20 minutes most mornings. "The designer hasn't seen it, hasn't lived it," she told the county planning board. However, representatives of developers Oakdale Properties said the village would be ideally situated near schools and the future Linganore Town Center. "This is a very unique site. I can't think of a better place to put some density and establish a walkable community," said Mark Friis, president of Rodgers Consulting. Planning commissioner Robert Lawrence said he doesn't think the design provides enough access points to the community. Lawrence predicted backups at the Old National Pike entrance.

Frederick County commissioners done with large-scale privatization, Young says

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/09/2013
The era of wholesale privatization in county government is coming to a close, and the surviving three quarters of the county workforce can breathe a sigh of relief, according to Commissioners President Blaine Young. Young sent a letter to Frederick County employees Monday thanking them for their understanding during the roughly two years that commissioners have looked at shrinking and streamlining government. The recent decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living puts the county on course to lose 181 more workers, with facility staff expected to become employees of the buyer, Aurora Health Management. However, the sale of Citizens and Montevue represents the last major privatization effort the current Board of County Commissioners aims to undertake, Young wrote in the letter.

Blaine and Co. bad for Frederick County

Frederick News Post
George Wenschhof
07/07/2013
The 4-1 vote recently to sell the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities and disband their board of trustees, illustrates the latest example of Frederick County government behaving badly. Immediately following the 2010 election, new board of county commissioners’ president Blaine Young (R) proclaimed Frederick County “Open for Business.” Joining Young as newly elected Republicans on the five member board were Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve and Paul Smith, who I quickly dubbed with the moniker; “Blaine and Co.,” the moniker resulting from their like ideology and the carte blanche votes Delauter, Shreve and Smith gave to Young on anything Young would propose. Fueled by “tea party” fervor, prevalent across the nation, that promoted less government and less spending, Blaine and Co. wasted no time in promoting these ideals, a disturbing pattern of governing that clearly illustrates how following ideology often trumps reasonable representation. The resulting action from Blaine and Co. was felt immediately after their election, when they moved to eliminate $2 million in county funding for Head Start, a proven and effective federal program that helps children in need during the critical early years of development. What has followed over the next 2 1/2 years has been a continued move to follow an irresponsible privatization path in governing.

Young supports Frederick County sheriff despite controversies

County renews controversial federal immigration program
Gazette
Ryan Marshall
07/05/2013
Potential gubernatorial candidate Blaine R. Young (R) said he stands by his sheriff amid several recent controversies and a renewal of the county’s participation in a controversial federal immigration program. Young, the president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, said Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R) is the latest in a long line of fine Frederick County sheriffs. “I think we have an outstanding sheriff’s department,” Young said, adding that Jenkins has been effective in both law enforcement and fiscal responsibility. Jenkins has found himself under fire in recent years for the county’s embrace of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which brings together local and federal law enforcement to enforce immigration policy. Frederick is the only county in Maryland to participate in the program. It has used it since 2008. On June 27, the sheriff’s office renewed its participation in the program for another three years, through 2016, Jenkins said Tuesday.

Calls for local boycotts ill-advised

Frederick News Post
07/05/2013
Some major decisions by the Frederick County Commissioners have been received poorly by many in the community. Obvious examples include constructing a waste-to-energy incinerator and the decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. We understand the emotional reaction of those who oppose these moves, and the need they feel to act. A recent letter to the editor from a local business owner, however, discusses a form of action that, like him, we think is inappropriate. Calls have been issued on several locally created Web pages to boycott businesses owned or operated by Commissioners President Blaine Young — as well as businesses that sponsor Young or are customers of companies or services owned by the commissioner.