Editorial Archive

Answering a burning question

Gazette
04/04/2013
Like a slow-burning fire that won’t go out, the continuous spontaneous combustion of questions surrounding the construction of a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick County has taken on a life of its own. Since first being proposed eight years ago as a way to mitigate the high cost of hauling away trash from the county’s full landfill on Reichs Ford Road, the $527 million project has been vetted, debated, twisted, turned, politicized and eviscerated over time. Yet we still don’t know for sure that, once built, whether the facility will be an economic savior or a nightmare, with the county already slated to put up $316 million just for construction costs alone.

Pay now, or pay later for Frederick County development

Gazette
01/24/2013
The legal costs of the battles that could take place in the future over inadequate roads and schools, public safety and irresponsible decision-making make current litigation look like a minor inconvenience. So, let the debate run its course. Let the courts get involved; that’s why we have them. If we don’t, we could end up losing the very place everyone is trying to save in their own way — without having asked all the tough questions in the first place.

Been down this road before

Gazette
11/29/2012
With the 2013 General Assembly session lurking on the horizon, it is imperative that state lawmakers give more than the usual lip service to Maryland’s transportation needs. Budget analysts have warned that the state transportation funding situation looks bleak — once again. Voicing the concerns of their beleaguered members, the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties have made restoring highway user revenues, which have been slashed to the tune of almost $1 billion in recent years, a top legislative priority. Yet, it seems highly unlikely that the city of Frederick will see a marked increase in the highway user fees it needs to repair deteriorating local roadways or Frederick County will get the $169 million it wants next year to help relieve congestion and improve safety on the area’s busy highways — at least according to pessimistic state transportation officials.

Here we go again

Frederick News Post
07/02/2012
We find it ironic that the controversy over the $100 tax rebate checks the Frederick County Commissioners want to give back to taxpayers just won't go away quietly. Ironic, we say, because had the commissioners simply picked a better option, such as reducing the tax rate in the spring to cover the $6.7 million refund to taxpayers, then the issue would be over and the savings would be reflected in the tax bills being mailed out after July 1

Trailer tax break

Frederick News Post
06/25/2012
Commissioner Kirby Delauter was the one who suggested reducing to nothing a tax on trailer parks, which the commissioners unanimously supported last week. It's a good move if, as Delauter hoped, the break goes to residents rather than owners of the property on which the mobile homes sit. The 15 percent tax is charged on the cost of leasing the land for the trailer and collected by the county from trailer-park owners. The park owners presumably pass the cost on to tenants in their rental bills.

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.

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.

Natural Wonder

Frederick News Post
06/12/2012
here are 190 certified backyard wildlife habitats in Frederick County. Judging by the testimonials that appeared in FNP reporter Pete McCarthy's Sunday story, "Nature for rent," these habitats are as valuable to those who maintain them as they are to the creatures they were created for.Human beings, including many here in Frederick County, are losing their physical connection and emotional bond to the natural world. Increasingly, daily life is spent in office buildings, cars and malls; TV, cell phones and the Internet are our passions. That's a real shame -- for both us and nature.

Uphill running

Frederick News Post
06/03/2012
Commissioner Blaine Young has made it official -- he intends to run for governor. It's a bold move. But we'll be frank here -- we'll be surprised if Young makes it through a potentially crowded field of primary challengers. Young is the first Republican to formally sign on. Also believed to be considering runs are Harford County Executive David Craig, Larry Hogan (former appointments secretary to former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and brother of Frederick Delegate Patrick Hogan), and Brian Murphy, a gubernatorial primary challenger in 2008. Other than his potential challengers, Young has some serious hurdles to overcome if he wants to make it as far as the Governor's Mansion. Let's run through a few.

Commissioners shouldn’t phase out nonprofit partnerships

Gazette
05/03/2012
In cutting the funding Frederick County provides to nonprofits that serve the needy and disabled, the Board of County Commissioners is endangering a useful partnership with the private sector that can save the county money

Blaine Young's road show

Frederick News Post
03/19/2012
The rumors have been out there for a while that Commissioners President Blaine Young would enter the governor's race. Now he's exploring the option. Frankly, it's hard to imagine how Maryland's electoral math could turn his way. Not even former Gov. Bob Ehrlich could pull off a second term, and he was, for all intents and purposes, a moderate. We'll be interested to see if this goes beyond the exploratory stage. To be honest, we doubt it. Young, despite having once been a Democrat then flipping parties after he decided not to run again for Frederick city alderman, is about as conservative a conservative as Frederick County has to offer.

Blaine Young’s road show

Frederick News Post
03/19/2012
The rumors have been out there for a while that Commissioners President Blaine Young would enter the governor's race. Now he's exploring the option. Frankly, it's hard to imagine how Maryland's electoral math could turn his way. Not even former Gov. Bob Ehrlich could pull off a second term, and he was, for all intents and purposes, a moderate. We'll be interested to see if this goes beyond the exploratory stage. To be honest, we doubt it. Young, despite having once been a Democrat then flipping parties after he decided not to run again for Frederick city alderman, is about as conservative a conservative as Frederick County has to offer.

Sloganeering

Frederick News Post
02/05/2012
If we thought for a minute that a highway sign that read "Welcome to Frederick County. Open for Business" would actually create a single job or prompt a business to expand or relocate here -- then that would be one thing. But the reality is that the only work created by a sign like this is for the county employee who painted the political slogan on it. We say "political," because that's exactly what this is all about. Here is the latest spat involving Commissioners President Blaine Young: The commissioner is upset with the Maryland State Highway Administration because it won't allow three words -- "Open for Business" -- on signs posted along major roadways, such as U.S. 15, U.S. 340, I-70 and I-270. The fact that it's just three words isn't the point, nor the fact that the words are "open for business." Instead, the real irony is that this is really nothing more than a campaign slogan being painted on a taxpayer-funded sign.

Far too far

Frederick News Post
12/28/2011
Commissioners President Blaine Young's recent comment, the one that indicates he will remake the planning commission, is a worryingly arrogant demonstration. His attitude to this board of volunteers carries consequences far beyond the minor annoyances of their recent activism. Young, speaking at a public meeting, implies no opposition will be brooked in his push for zero barriers for Frederick County's building industry: "I can guarantee you, in July, you're going to have a drastically different planning commission." Young and the county board have been at odds over revisions to the county's comprehensive plan, which governs land use over the next 20 years. The commissioners promised to overturn what they considered the previous board's unfair downzonings. The planning commission balked, called the process a sham, and refused to conduct hearings. Now Young is threatening to replace the two planning commission members behind the opposition when their terms are up next year. We assume he means with two pro-growth rubber stamps.

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.

Mitigation fee

Frederick News Post
08/14/2011
After hearing directly from representatives of the local building industry Tuesday, we became convinced their hearts were in the right place when they suggested a new provision that would allow them to pay to build in areas where schools are overcrowded. But they have a long way to go to convince us and, as they acknowledged, other members of the public that the solution they offered is a complete one. Only time will tell. As Steve Seawright said during an editorial board meeting at The Frederick News-Post, "By the time the next election comes around, while things are hopefully better, they will not have changed significantly enough that there will be things people can point to tangibly that says this has been made worse." A stumbling block to public acceptance is that this offer was made out of desperation by an industry in crisis. The national economy has not been kind to home-building, and combined with an overly stringent county growth regulation, has made building new homes in Frederick County almost untenable. As generous as the offer is, it is too self-serving. The regulation's main objective is to let builders build. Any benefits to the educational system seem peripheral to that.

Kroll's Exit

Frederick News Post
08/06/2011
The sudden departure of John Kroll, former head of finance for Frederick County, raises a few questions. Both Kroll and County Commissioner David Gray say that Kroll was forced out. Exactly what that means, we don't know. There are a number of possible explanations. It is also not totally clear exactly why this happened. Gray and Kroll himself believe that he was cut loose because a member of his department challenged Commissioners President Blaine Young's assertion that the county has a significant structural budget problem that requires serious budget-cutting.

Kroll’s Exit

Frederick News Post
08/06/2011
The sudden departure of John Kroll, former head of finance for Frederick County, raises a few questions. Both Kroll and County Commissioner David Gray say that Kroll was forced out. Exactly what that means, we don't know. There are a number of possible explanations. It is also not totally clear exactly why this happened. Gray and Kroll himself believe that he was cut loose because a member of his department challenged Commissioners President Blaine Young's assertion that the county has a significant structural budget problem that requires serious budget-cutting.

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.