Frederick city officials limit LLC campaign donations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
11/08/2013
Business owners will now all be limited to the same standard when they make donations to candidates in city of Frederick elections, whether they own corporations or LLCs. The Frederick Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance Thursday that limits the amount of money an owner of multiple business entities may donate to a mayoral or aldermanic candidate. The limit is the same as it is for individuals and corporations that donate: $2,500 to an individual mayoral candidate, and $1,000 to an individual aldermanic candidate. The change comes after owners of multiple LLCs used the LLCs to donate beyond the maximum corporate donation to two mayoral candidates, Delegate Galen Clagett and Alderwoman Karen Young. When noticing the donations, the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections and the aldermen asked city staff to draft an ordinance, calling it a loophole in the law. When drafting the ordinance, the city's legal department mirrored the language in a new state law. The General Assembly passed a law this year that limits the owners' donations. It takes effect in 2015. The city decided Thursday expand the law even further than the state, at the suggestion of Alderman Michael O'Connor.

Russell, O'Connor lead field in aldermanic race

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/06/2013
Four Democrats and one Republican led the field in Tuesday’s contest to become the next five aldermen in the city of Frederick, according to unofficial election numbers. With all 12 polling precincts reporting, the top contenders included two incumbents, one former alderwoman, an attorney and a director of government affairs. However, with hundreds of ballots yet to be counted, the highest five vote-getters didn’t have large enough leads to put them out of reach of other contenders. If Tuesday night’s standings hold, the partisan balance on the city board will remain unchanged when the next batch of aldermen take office Dec. 12. Preliminary totals from the general election showed Alderwoman Kelly Russell and Alderman Michael O’Connor finishing ahead of the other eight candidates, with 4,212 and 4,169 votes, respectively. Tuesday’s unofficial tally put Democrat Josh Bokee in third place with 3,789 votes. Republican Philip Dacey and Democrat Donna Kuzemchak took fourth and fifth place, earning 3,781 and 3,656 votes, respectively.

Frederick’s Next Dead Mall

Frederick Gorilla
Matt Edens
09/30/2013
Well, that’s settled: We’re getting another Walmart. In July, the Board of Aldermen approved the controversial rezoning that will make way for a new Walmart Supercenter in the middle of what was once Frederick Towne Mall. Opinions varied widely in the often acrimonious debate leading up to the vote. The most outspoken proponents promised that the big box retailer would be the boost the area needs to reclaim its past glory as a shopping destination. Meanwhile, the direst opponents painted the supercenter’s grand opening as a dark day that would bring the Golden Mile — and maybe America — one step closer to oblivion. By and large, I doubt either prediction will come to fruition. In fact, that’s primarily why I opposed the rezoning. Choosing general commercial over the mixed-use model that’s been the key component of at least half a dozen successful shopping center makeovers in the region essentially preserves the status quo. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that in 10 years the Golden Mile will remain what it is today: a struggling retail strip, albeit one with a Walmart. I doubt it will have a Kmart, however.

Election supervisors want to cap LLC donations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/26/2013
Frederick's law regarding how much business owners can donate to candidates in elections should mirror the state's law, the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections decided Wednesday. The board will recommend to the mayor and Board of Aldermen that they pass an amendment to the city's election law that limits the amount a person who owns multiple business entities, such as limited liability corporations, is able to donate to each candidate. Anne Leffler, the board's president, said the change is long overdue. The business owner would be limited to the same amounts allowed to a resident or corporation — $2,500 to one mayoral candidate and $1,000 to one aldermanic candidate — no matter how many business entities that person owns or is making donations from.

County hears input on transportation priorities

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
09/23/2013
County staff members and representatives from the State Highway Administration met with the commissioners last week to go over transportation priorities for Frederick County. Transportation projects tend to develop slowly, so many of the items on the county priorities list were carried over from earlier years. The overall top priority remains widening U.S. 15 between I-70 and Md. 26. However, three key changes were made possible by state funding. Planners secured construction funding for the U.S. 15, Monocacy Boulevard interchange and a streetscape project on Main Street (Md. 144) in New Market. Streetscapes generally involve improving or adding sidewalks and upgrading roadways to make them more navigable.

Aldermanic candidates mix of old, new faces

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/11/2013
wo sitting aldermen and two former aldermen are among the 10 candidates who are poised to face off against one another in the city of Frederick’s general election, according to unofficial primary results. On the Republican side, city voters Tuesday chose Philip Dacey, Katie Nash, Alan Imhoff, Dave Schmidt and Daniel Cowell to move on to compete in the city’s Nov. 5 general election, according to the preliminary totals for the primary election. The top five Democratic vote-getters were Alderwoman Kelly Russell, Alderman Michael O’Connor, Josh Bokee, Donna Kuzemchak and John Daniels, according to the preliminary numbers.

City officials pass ordinance to fight blighted properties

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/07/2013
The city now has a bigger hammer to help it fight its most habitually blighted and vacant properties. Frederick's Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Thursday to pass an ordinance that would allow the city to set up a receivership program. With receivership, the city could take the owner of a habitually vacant, unsafe and nuisance property to court. The court could either force the owner to make upgrades, or take the property from the owner and sell it to a qualified owner, with requirements attached to fix up the property in a set time frame. Alderman Michael O'Connor said the city does not believe receivership to be "the magic solution." The city would use the tool sparingly, if at all, said Alderwoman Carol Krimm.

Frederick residents mixed on mall's decided fate

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/20/2013
When envisioning the future of the abandoned Frederick Towne Mall site on U.S. 40, residents focused on opportunity. They imagined a place where they could live, work and play. They saw themselves walking down winding sidewalks to mom-and-pop shops, like in Bowie or Rockville. Some may not have pictured what the land may now become — home to Frederick's third Wal-Mart. Residents have mixed thoughts about the Board of Aldermen's unanimous decision Thursday to rezone the property from mixed use to general commercial, which will allow developer Rockwood Capital to continue drafting plans for a Wal-Mart on the site.

Frederick residents mixed on mall’s decided fate

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/20/2013
When envisioning the future of the abandoned Frederick Towne Mall site on U.S. 40, residents focused on opportunity. They imagined a place where they could live, work and play. They saw themselves walking down winding sidewalks to mom-and-pop shops, like in Bowie or Rockville. Some may not have pictured what the land may now become — home to Frederick's third Wal-Mart. Residents have mixed thoughts about the Board of Aldermen's unanimous decision Thursday to rezone the property from mixed use to general commercial, which will allow developer Rockwood Capital to continue drafting plans for a Wal-Mart on the site.

City makes way for Wal-Mart on Frederick Towne Mall site

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/19/2013
The stage is set for a third Wal-Mart in Frederick. After hearing more than an hour of impassioned public comment Thursday, the city's Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to rezone the Frederick Towne Mall property. The rezoning will allow Rockwood Capital, which owns the 20 acres on U.S. 40, to move forward with a proposal to bulldoze the nearly vacant mall and build a Wal-Mart. The developers will need to bring forward a site plan before finalizing its plan.

Businesses say yes, residents say no to rezoning for Wal-Mart

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/11/2013
Business owners on the Golden Mile are all for a new Wal-Mart on U.S. 40, but residents who live nearby say it’s the last thing the city needs. More than 120 people filled the City Hall boardroom Wednesday night to tell the mayor and Board of Aldermen their thoughts on rezoning Frederick Towne Mall and the Conley Farm. The bulk of the crowd at the public hearing commented on the mall property. Rockwood Capital, which owns the 20-acre mall site on U.S. 40, has requested a zoning change that would allow it to demolish the mostly vacant mall and build a Wal-Mart. The zoning would change the land from commercial use to a mix of commercial and residential uses. After hearing more than 30 public comments Wednesday, aldermen finalized conditions of the rezoning, which is scheduled for a vote July 18.

Frederick’s race begins in earnest

Frederick News Post
07/08/2013
The field is locked down and -- if you’ll forgive us the cliché -- the race to lead the city of Frederick for the next four years is on. The primary has a swathe of candidates -- 21 in total. All told, 12 and one independent will go through to the General Election on Nov. 5. It’s inspiring, given Independence Day was less than a week ago, that so many want to stand up and be counted and do their civic duty. The primary is Sept. 10, so party voters have only two months to familiarize themselves with a lot of political wannabes; and those wannabes, those of them who aren’t incumbents with a degree of name recognition, will have their work cut out raising their profiles with voters. All 21 will be scrambling for a cut of the pathetic number of people who generally come out for the city election. Barely one in five of Frederick’s registered voters came to the polls for the Sept. 15, 2009, primary.

Frederick's race begins in earnest

Frederick News Post
07/08/2013
The field is locked down and -- if you’ll forgive us the cliché -- the race to lead the city of Frederick for the next four years is on. The primary has a swathe of candidates -- 21 in total. All told, 12 and one independent will go through to the General Election on Nov. 5. It’s inspiring, given Independence Day was less than a week ago, that so many want to stand up and be counted and do their civic duty. The primary is Sept. 10, so party voters have only two months to familiarize themselves with a lot of political wannabes; and those wannabes, those of them who aren’t incumbents with a degree of name recognition, will have their work cut out raising their profiles with voters. All 21 will be scrambling for a cut of the pathetic number of people who generally come out for the city election. Barely one in five of Frederick’s registered voters came to the polls for the Sept. 15, 2009, primary.

Monocacy, U.S. 15 interchange is funded. Now what?

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
07/08/2013
Now that the city has secured funding for the long-planned Monocacy Boulevard-U.S. 15 interchange, Frederick is trying to set new priorities. City planner Tim Davis said that the item had been the No. 1 transportation item since he started the position 11 years ago. Maryland's Transportation Act set aside $82 million for the interchange during the last General Assembly session. Davis met with the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday to discuss the city's Highway Needs Inventory and set new goals. The inventory is a requirement of local governments to request state funding for road projects. The list does not guarantee funding, but it's a primary step to secure it.

Prepping For The Primaries – The Faces Behind Frederick’s Political Landscape

Frederick Gorilla
Emily Holland
07/03/2013
The filing deadline for candidates in Frederick’s primary election has passed, and Fredericktonians will be faced with more than a dozen names of candidates. For the aspiring-to-be-informed citizen, there’s a lot of homework involved. But don’t be afraid just yet: Frederick Gorilla is making the task easier with a preliminary, informative kick start guide to the candidates and the election itself: The Lay of the Land: Six candidates are vying for the mayor’s seat in the primaries, with a breakdown of three Republicans, two Democrats and one unaffiliated. The competition includes an unusual mix: two former mayors, one incumbent, two current aldermen and one current delegate. Seven Republicans and eight Democrats are in the race for five aldermen seats. Eleven of those candidates have never held an elected office, while two are former aldermen and an additional two are incumbents.

Six former or current politicians, one resident run for Frederick mayor

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
07/03/2013
One familiar face and one newcomer to Frederick's political scene filed to run for mayor Tuesday, the last day for candidates to file in this year's election. Alderwoman Shelley Aloi (R) and resident Carol A. Hirsch (D) will have their names on the Sept. 10 primary election ballots. Aloi announced her bid in front of family and friends on the steps of City Hall. Hirsch slipped into City Hall to file without a public announcement. Hirsch, who lives on Madison Street, has never run for office in Frederick. She did not respond Tuesday to an email request for comment. She will take on District 3A Delegate Galen Clagett and Alderwoman Karen Young in the Democratic primary. Aloi, 52, will challenge Mayor Randy McClement and former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger in the primary. Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty is running unaffiliated and will compete only in the general election Nov. 5.

Two More File for Alderman as City of Frederick Candidate Deadline Nears

Frederick Politics
George Wenschhof
06/29/2013
With The City of Frederick candidate July 2 filing deadline only days away, two more filed for the board of alderman. Former, one term alderman, Republican Alan Imhoff and Democrat Kevin Greene made their entry into the race official on Friday. Imhoff’s entry makes it six Republican candidates, ensuring a contested primary for Republican voters, who will choose five to move on to the General election. Greene is the eighth Democratic candidate to file for alderman. At the time of publication, Geene had not responded to my inquiry as to why he was running for office.

Rezoning for Wal-Mart would have conditions

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
06/20/2013
Wal-Mart or no Wal-Mart, the Frederick Towne Mall site will have conditions attached to its rezoning if it gets rezoned next month, city officials agreed Wednesday. The Board of Aldermen came to the conclusion that conditionally rezoning the property at 1301 W. Patrick St. to general commercial zoning has the potential to advance the city's long-range plans for the area's redevelopment. They agreed the conditions attached to the rezoning should be general concepts and goals, not a specific plan that Wal-Mart has presented.

Tone-deaf

Frederick News Post
06/20/2012
Even Blaine Young's own stepmother said the tone of his emails was so nasty that she had to restrain herself from responding. But we won't. The reason is that constituents should demand that their elected officials are civil and treat each other with respect, even when they disagree. Maybe the commissioners president was just having a bad day when he fired off several emails to the Frederick mayor and Board of Aldermen on the morning of June 8. We suspect, however, it's more likely that this is just one more example of how the self-proclaimed "good ol' boy" deals with people he disagrees with. In case you missed it, Young, who is a co-owner of a taxi service in Frederick, was ticked -- and that's putting it mildly -- that the city held a public hearing and raised fares by 30 cents per mile the night before, according to the email exchange, reported last Friday in The Frederick News-Post. Young said he didn't show up at the meeting (as the city's other taxi companies did) because it would just "piss me off," and he asserted in an electronic exchange that the city should have no control over taxi rates.

Young sounds off in emails: Spars with alderman over taxi-rate hikes

Frederick News Post
Courtney Pomeroy and Patti S. Borda
06/15/2012
A string of emails from Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, as taxi business owner, to Frederick city aldermen struck some of them as disrespectful and ineffective. "Oh, what a nasty email train," Alderwoman Karen Young said. "The tone of his correspondence was just so inappropriate. I had to restrain myself from responding." Blaine Young is a co-owner of Yellow Cab and sent emails from a cab company email address to the mayor and Board of Aldermen after they voted June 7 to raise taxicab fares from $1.60 to $1.90 per mile. He did not attend the public hearing on the matter, but said in his email that the city should have no control over taxi rates. "I did not come on purpose and I should not watched the meeting because all it did was piss me off with all the miss information (sic) with the taxi cab industry," he wrote June 8. "(W)hy are you involved in setting taxi cab rates?" he wrote. "You do not set the price of a hamburger, a loaf of bread, the price of milk. ... No government money is involved in our business." He questioned the aldermen's business experience. "Get your nose out of the taxi cab business and that include (sic) the number of permits," he wrote.