The Politics of Personal Destruction in Frederick County

EDITOR’S NOTE: We thank Rick Brace for sharing this perspective about one of the disturbing aspects of the recent, ongoing and heated controversy about the Monocacy Scenic River Advisory Board and its lengthy process to update the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan.

This excellent piece, written by Katherine Heerbrandt, and published on May 2nd in The Frederick Extra, provides some helpful background on the matter for those who are not familiar with what has been happening on this issue: River Fight Flows On

Please note that there are a number of additional links below Rick’s piece, including the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board’s site, their page for the Monocacy River Management Plan, and other news and opinion pieces from The Frederick Extra and the Frederick News Post.

For some time now our Nation and even our local political establishment have engaged in calls not only questioning policies from any side in the political arena, but also in questioning the personal integrity of those in the political arena. Now this savage trend is being focused on a local public servant below the elected level, bringing the very worst of those horrific attacks here.

Tim Goodfellow is a planner with almost twenty-five years on the Frederick County Planning staff. I know, I worked with him for well more than 20 of those years. When we were both starting our planning careers reviewing permits and frequent field inspections were part of the standard day for us, taking us to the far corners of Frederick, the largest land area county in the state (and the most beautiful as well, but we are biased).

In our careers we have jointly and separately met with thousands of residents, explaining the policies our elected or appointed leaders have established after conducting hearings and detailed studies and providing what options residents might take in dealing with the effects of those policies.

There were certainly times affected residents were not happy with the policies and they expressed themselves colorfully, loudly and pointedly. We dutifully tried to listen and record those comments so that we might relay them accurately to the decision-makers. Rarely were we personally the target of attacks and on those rare occasions when they did occur we were trained to restrain from responding. Tim still has that training at heart is still fully engaged and so cannot respond; I have retired and can finally speak my mind.

Tim is the County’s lead planner on a very, very dangerous program: clean water. He cares about clean water for Frederick residents and he cares about clean water for those downstream and those who use the Bay. While he has a good heart, he also has a keen mind, sharpened by his science degree from Maryland and a local master of environmental sciences program at Hood College.

After a full day of work Tim would head off to class to wrestle with the detail of why and how Frederick County’s water could be clean and clear. His weekends were filled with walking hundreds of miles of streams, creeks and ponds, collecting data and sifting through it digitally using state-of-the-art programs and methods. Those of us who are taxpayers here helped him as his master’s program was partially paid for through the County’s educational reimbursement program, an incentive offered by the County to obtain low-cost, highly trained local experts.

I have observed Tim in some of the toughest situations a planner ever faces surrounded by hostile folks on all sides, people yelling in graphic language about you and the policies you represent. Tim knows that the way to deal with it is to learn to separate yourself from the policies you represent and, should one feel some discomfort, to separate yourself for a moment to recover your balance. Even beyond these types of incidences, such as when we were blocked in by an angry violator who equipped himself with a bat, Tim remained calm and collected.

Knowing this about Tim I was very surprised to learn of an effort, not to just changes policies he crafted at the direction of the Scenic River Board, but to remove him from working in this capacity altogether. I know from my long work association with him that he is objective, reasonable and respectful of balancing property rights with the public good. I believe this to be a gross attack on his personal and professional dignity and must say so.

Mr. Goodfellow is a professional planner who has invested years of toil and sweat in promoting clean water here and elsewhere and to separate him from such duties would be to kowtow to a mob mentality that is becoming more prevalent and NOT to the benefit of the public. Were such an effort successful we, the residents of Frederick County, would lose a valuable professional with a careful and balanced expertise that would take decades to replace, if even possible in such a volatile environment as some objectors propose.

While petitions have their place in the public realm, attacking those who work at a level of public service as Mr. Goodfellow can only be seen as a petty and mean-spirited effort.


Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board on the Frederick County website

2016/2017 Update of the Monocacy River Management Plan on the Frederick County website


Some recent articles and opinion pieces about the recent and ongoing controversy about the Monocacy Scenic River Advisory Board the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan:

The Frederick Extra
River Board Actions Disturbing
June 15, 2017
By Matt Seubert

The Frederick Extra
River Fight Flows On
May 2, 2017
By Katherine Heerbrandt

The Frederick News Post
Monocacy landowner’s petition fails; litigation remains an option
Jun 9, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Tense moments as board proposes revised Monocacy River management plan
Jun 9, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Buffer, setback discussion surfaces again at river board meeting
Apr 6, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Viewshed plan scrutinized by Monocacy property owners
March 16, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Monocacy landowners object to river plan’s reference to historic, archaeological sites
March 3, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post (letter to the editor)
The Monocacy River will never be cleaned up for all the politics being dumped in it
February 18, 2017
Matt Seubert

The Frederick News Post
Controversial Monocacy River boundary lines to remain online until next draft released
February 7, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Monocacy River board erases resource protection lines from plan
February 1, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post (letter to the editor)
Rumor is muddying the waters about the Monocacy River plan
Jan 29, 2017
Veronica Poklemba (Ijamsville)

The Frederick News Post
Walkersville waits to act on draft Monocacy River management plan
January 25, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
Monocacy River property owners threaten lawsuit, start petition
January 23, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post (letter to the editor)
The Monocacy Protection Area is intended to be beneficial, not regulatory
January 21, 2017
by James Gilford

The Frederick News Post (editorial)
Maintaining the health of the Monocacy River must be a shared responsibility
January 10, 2017
Frederick News-Post Editorial Board

The Frederick News Post
Monocacy River board chairman: ‘Board is going to make adjustments’ to management plan
January 5, 2017
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
River board solicits more comments on draft management plan
December 21, 2016
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post
The polluted Monocacy River, our collective stewardship and collaboration
December 20, 2016
Janice Wiles (Frederick)

The Frederick News Post (letter to the editor)
Delauter’s opposition to Monocacy stream buffers is backward-looking
December 13, 2016
Matt Seubert (Urbana)

The Frederick News Post
Landowners push back against proposed Monocacy River protection area
December 10, 2016
By Samantha Hogan

The Frederick News Post (letter to the editor)
Support the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan
November 5, 2016
Jennifer Kunze and Caitlin Wall

The Frederick News Post
New green buffer zone key to Monocacy River plan
November 3, 2016
By Samantha Hogan shogan@newspost.com