Cecil County Commissioners Name Carrie Taylor, Smipkin Ally, to Paid Seat on Liquor Board
A majority of the Cecil County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to appoint Carrie L. Taylor– a member of the countyâ€™s Republican Central Committee, head of the local GOP Womenâ€™s Club and a key ally of the Smigiel-Pipkin political machineâ€”to a seat on the countyâ€™s liquor board, a post that will pay her $2,500 a year.
Taylor, 31, a paralegal, was given the seat held for many years by Herrel â€śCuzâ€ť Curry, whose three-year term expires in July. Curry worked for many years as a senior inspector for the liquor board before retiring and he was subsequently appointed as a member of the liquor board. Curry has also served as the President of the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, which has honored him as one of its â€śtop tenâ€ť fire responders, and he has been active in many community events and groups for years.
Curry had requested re-appointment to the panel, county sources said, and it appeared that he would be returned to the liquor board, which is formally known as the â€śBoard of License Commissioners.â€ť But suddenly, during a late Tuesday morning closed-door meeting of the County Commissioners, Taylorâ€™s name was put forward by Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3). Then, a few hours later, Taylorâ€™s appointment was put up for a vote by the Commissioners during an afternoon public meeting.
Taylor also drew support from Commissionersâ€™ President James Mullin (R-1) and Diana Broomell (R-4). But Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2) abstained, saying she had just returned from a family vacation and had not participated in a previous closed-door worksession discussion on the board vacancy.
Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) opposed the Taylor appointment because it was pushed forward within a few hours of first being proposed, and Commissioners were not being given a chance to review qualifications or propose any other candidates for consideration. (The final vote on Taylorâ€™s appointment was 3-1, with Moore abstaining.)
Broomell responded that it was wrong to imply that the appointment was being â€śdone in a sneaky manner.â€ť
While Dunn remained silent, Broomell said that Dunn was â€śled to believeâ€ť that the Curry seat was his to fill since it represented his district. Mullin said it was â€śjust an honest mistake.â€ť
Other county sources said that when the old three-member County Commissionersâ€™ board was in place, each Commissioner picked one member for the three-member liquor board. But when the Commissionersâ€™ board expanded to five members, that old practice was abandoned and all commissioners were supposed to have a say in picking a candidate.
The snub of Curry, a well-respected community leader, may have some political consequences in the future for Dunn. The Rising Sun fire company is a strong institution in the community, with many members and supporters with long political memories.
Taylor was the second controversial appointment put forward, although with few if any words actually spoken in public, by Dunn in as many weeks.
Earlier, Dunn selected Owen Thorne, an activist with the ARCA anti-growth group, for the county planning commission. Thorne was appointed on a 3-2 vote, with Hodge and Moore in opposition because of the legal costs incurred by the county due to ARCAâ€™s repeated lawsuits against county planning and other decisions. On Tuesday, ARCA lost its latest challenge, against the countyâ€™s sale of water and sewer plants to the private Artesian firm. (See Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/06/court-of-appeals-rules-cecil-county-can-sell-watersewer-plants-to-artesian-court-orders-arca-to-pay-some-county-legal-fees/
The selection of Taylor to the liquor board rewards a multi-titled member, and the only woman in a leadership role, of the Republican political machine in Cecil County organized by state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36).
Taylor is currently the treasurer of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, which holds a 7-2 Smipkin-supporter majority. She is also the President of the Cecil County Republican Womenâ€™s Club, a post she won after Pipkinâ€™s wife, Alisa, recruited a contingent of new members for the meeting at which the election for president was held last year.
Taylor also lost a Republican primary fight against William Feehley, who ultimately was elected as the new county Treasurer last year. Taylor also served as campaign committee treasurer for Ted Pattersonâ€™s losing Republican campaign for state delegate against incumbent Del. David Rudolph (D-34B)
Taylor was also a financial lynchpin in the Smipkin organizations financial maneuvers last year through which campaign funds were moved around among political clubs and candidate committees– including money pushed out of the Womenâ€™s Club account to a Smipkin-tied Political Action Committee that in turn pumped money into Taylorâ€™s own political campaign.
It was the first time in recent history that the local Republican Womenâ€™s Club had contributed money during a contested GOP primary season. And the Republicans of Cecil PAC that donated to Taylorâ€™s campaignâ€”after her Womenâ€™s Club gave money to ROC PACâ€”also donated funds to Dunnâ€™s campaign for county Commissioner.
Commissioner Mullin also donated to the ROC PAC and was a major bankroller of all the local Smipkin-backed candidates last year.
See previous Cecil Times report here:
The county liquor board position pays $2,500 a year to its two members and $3,000 a year to its chairman. Those figures are set by state law, sources said. (Most county commissions and advisory boards are occupied by unpaid volunteers.) The liquor board generally meets once a month, according to its website, and there are currently 145 liquor licenses issued in the county.