Monrovia Town Center opponents scrutinize [Blaine] Young's campaign donations

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
10/09/2013
Opponents of a proposed 1,510-home project in Monrovia are raising questions about campaign contributions that Commissioners President Blaine Young has accepted from companies linked to the developers. Donations totaling $28,000 poured into Young’s campaign coffers Oct. 29, 2012, from seven companies whose resident agent is helping head up the Monrovia Town Center project. The same day, the campaign received an additional $3,000 from 75-80 Dragway Inc., a company that owns some of the property slated for development. As county officials prepare to hold an Oct. 23 hearing on the project, residents around the 457-acre site are crying foul. “I think it’s a gross conflict of interests, and it’s been one since that donation took place,” said Steve McKay, president of Residents Against Landsdale Expansion, a citizens group that has vocally protested the town center plans. McKay’s group argues the town center would destroy Monrovia’s rural character and says the local roads and schools cannot support hundreds of new homes. While the donations to Young’s campaign were legal, McKay noted that they came a couple of weeks before town center developers, 75-80 Properties LLC and Payne Investments LLC, turned in the rezoning applications for their project.

Monrovia Town Center opponents scrutinize [Blaine] Young’s campaign donations

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
10/09/2013
Opponents of a proposed 1,510-home project in Monrovia are raising questions about campaign contributions that Commissioners President Blaine Young has accepted from companies linked to the developers. Donations totaling $28,000 poured into Young’s campaign coffers Oct. 29, 2012, from seven companies whose resident agent is helping head up the Monrovia Town Center project. The same day, the campaign received an additional $3,000 from 75-80 Dragway Inc., a company that owns some of the property slated for development. As county officials prepare to hold an Oct. 23 hearing on the project, residents around the 457-acre site are crying foul. “I think it’s a gross conflict of interests, and it’s been one since that donation took place,” said Steve McKay, president of Residents Against Landsdale Expansion, a citizens group that has vocally protested the town center plans. McKay’s group argues the town center would destroy Monrovia’s rural character and says the local roads and schools cannot support hundreds of new homes. While the donations to Young’s campaign were legal, McKay noted that they came a couple of weeks before town center developers, 75-80 Properties LLC and Payne Investments LLC, turned in the rezoning applications for their project.

Violating the Open Meetings Act is no laughing matter

Frederick News Post
08/24/13
When is a quorum, not a quorum? Don't waste your time asking Frederick County Commissioner Kirby Delauter that question. Judging by his reaction of last week's unfavorable opinion by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board he's "not going to lose any sleep on it." Not to be outdone, Commissioner Billy Shreve told Frederick News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers, after learning about the ruling, that the compliance board's decision won't change his approach to talking about county issues. What we find troubling is that it's this kind of arrogance and disrespect for government transparency that continues to be the hallmark of the majority of this current board of commissioners. In case you missed it, the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board ruled last week that three commissioners, including Delauter and Shreve, violated the state's Open Meetings Act when they talked about the pending sale of two county-owned facilities on a local radio program on June 15.

Commissioners seek answers to Gray's tie to Friends of Frederick County

Frederick News Post
Daniel J. Gross
06/06/2013
Frederick County Commissioner David Gray is under scrutiny from other commissioners over ties to a county land-use nonprofit that has filed numerous lawsuits against the county. Commissioners President Blaine Young sent Gray and other county officials an email Wednesday morning stating that Gray Enterprises was the documented tax preparer that handled the 2011 tax filings for Friends of Frederick County, a land-use and cultural preservation nonprofit that has been in near-constant litigation with the county over land-use issues in recent years. When reached by phone Wednesday night, Gray said his wife, Sharon, owns the business, and that she prepares Friends of Frederick County’s tax documents without pay. “I don’t get involved in that. I separate myself from those things,” Gray said. “My wife is free to volunteer for them. As far as I know, she’s never received any compensation.”

Commissioners seek answers to Gray’s tie to Friends of Frederick County

Frederick News Post
Daniel J. Gross
06/06/2013
Frederick County Commissioner David Gray is under scrutiny from other commissioners over ties to a county land-use nonprofit that has filed numerous lawsuits against the county. Commissioners President Blaine Young sent Gray and other county officials an email Wednesday morning stating that Gray Enterprises was the documented tax preparer that handled the 2011 tax filings for Friends of Frederick County, a land-use and cultural preservation nonprofit that has been in near-constant litigation with the county over land-use issues in recent years. When reached by phone Wednesday night, Gray said his wife, Sharon, owns the business, and that she prepares Friends of Frederick County’s tax documents without pay. “I don’t get involved in that. I separate myself from those things,” Gray said. “My wife is free to volunteer for them. As far as I know, she’s never received any compensation.”

Commissioner’s statement raises ethics concerns

Young’s message prompts discussion
Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
07/12/2012
A Frederick County commissioner's statement decrying the Affordable Care Act and urging the election of conservative officials has raised concerns from the local ethics board.
Tagged in: , ,

Bully pulpit, part II

Frederick News Post
06/26/2012
When Blaine Young chose to run for commissioner, we urged him to close out his radio show. The reason is that Young's broadcast clearly gives him a political advantage, a pulpit from which he can broadcast his message three hours a day, five days a week. Now that Young is making moves to run for governor -- and in our opinion, if you're raising cash you're formally a candidate, even if you haven't signed that official little slip of paper at the state Board of Elections -- we have to repeat that call.

Enforcement of Frederick County ethics laws lacking

County has many statutes but goes light on punishing violations
Gazette
Katherine Heerbrandt
06/21/2012
A Frederick County commissioner can violate a ruling from the county’s Ethics Commission and suffer no more than a fleeting discomfort from an accusatory headline. Unless a majority of fellow commissioners directs the county attorney to take the matter to court, or approves the expense of an outside lawyer, there is little to no punishment for violating the conflict of interest provision in the county's ethics law.

Ethics laws are not ‘crazy’

Gazette
08/18/2011
Little is as important as electing to office people who maintain a high ethical standard, but knowing ahead of time who falls into that category can be challenging. Such is a key reason why governments should have strong ethics laws that err on the side of caution and disclosure for those who hold office. It is also the reason to fully support the Maryland General Assembly’s effort to tighten the disclosure requirements of, and the ethics laws that affect, those who hold office. The law passed last year requires local governments to tighten their rules by adopting one of two models by Oct. 1: Model A for larger counties and municipalities, and Model B for smaller ones. Frederick commissioners have proposed adopting Model A. Most of the changes are the same in both models, but there are some key differences in the areas of financial disclosure and lobbying. Under county law, elected officials and certain high-level employees have to disclose their real estate holdings and any co-owners of the properties only in Frederick County. Financial disclosure under Model A would apply to elected officials, candidates for office and certain high-level employees.

Ethics code needs ‘guts’

Frederick News Post
08/03/2011
It's disappointing that when the Frederick County Commissioners debated which of two sets of state-mandated ethics codes to adopt, they chose the less restrictive to send to public hearing. Two options were created by the state: one that is more suitable for a larger county government, one tailored to a smaller one.

Ethics code needs 'guts'

Frederick News Post
08/03/2011
It's disappointing that when the Frederick County Commissioners debated which of two sets of state-mandated ethics codes to adopt, they chose the less restrictive to send to public hearing. Two options were created by the state: one that is more suitable for a larger county government, one tailored to a smaller one.

Let’s keep our ethics law

Frederick News Post
John Ford
12/21/2010
Immediately after taking office, three of the new commissioners (who have the closest personal ties with the real estate/development community) took action to seek state approval to repeal certain sections of county ethics regulations.

Let's keep our ethics law

Frederick News Post
John Ford
12/21/2010
Immediately after taking office, three of the new commissioners (who have the closest personal ties with the real estate/development community) took action to seek state approval to repeal certain sections of county ethics regulations.