Cecil County Commissioners: Broomell, Hodge Take Road Trip; Ethics Code Redux

October 25, 2011

Was Willie Nelson’s song, “On the Road Again,” playing on the car radio when Cecil County Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) took Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) on a road trip Monday to see his properties in the county?

Broomell has raised questions about whether Hodge’s ownership of properties in the Route 40 area might be a conflict of interest with his official duties.

[A Cecil Times review of Hodge’s financial disclosures earlier this year showed he has more than complied with county ethics rules and detailed all his business and real estate interests even if they had no dealings with the county.]

So on Monday, Hodge took Broomell on a tour of all his properties, in response to her questions about whether he might benefit from the proposed Elkton West area extension of sewage services. Elkton West was to be serviced by the private Artesian Resources firm under a franchise from the county but a Broomell-led majority of the commissioners recently voted to “mutually terminate” that contract.

“I only have one property that falls into the Elkton West area in general, but the way the land slopes it had been decided that it would be more suitably serviced by a county-owned plant,” Hodge told Cecil Times, adding that he had no vested interest in the Artesian contract.

Broomell agreed, telling Cecil Times that his statement about the one property in the area “is probably true.” She also said she “appreciated” his taking her on the tour, which was made at his suggestion.

But she was still less than fully satisfied, saying that during Hodge’s election campaign he was asked at a candidate’s forum how many properties he owned in the Route 40 corridor and she said he replied, “so much I can’t even tell you.” Broomell said that “sent a red flag up” with her.

She said she was still concerned that some Hodge properties might benefit from “shovel ready” provisions for possible extensions of county infrastructure at some point in the future and if so, he should “recuse himself” from any county decisions.

Broomell has acknowledged that she has a conflict of interest of her own regarding state studies of a proposed widening and expansion of Route 222 in Perryville, since she lives along the road, but that has not stopped her from speaking out against it.

Meanwhile, the ink is barely dry on a revision of the county ethics code—required by a new state law—but Broomell wants to re-open the commissioners’ decision, made just a week ago, in which she was on the losing side.

At Tuesday’s commissioners’ worksession, Broomell served notice that she wants a prompt re-opening of the ethics code discussion to re-visit changes that a majority of the commissioners rejected a week ago.

Broomell said she wants county department heads to have to file the same detailed financial disclosures of personal and spousal property and financial holdings that county commissioners must file under the new code. In addition, she wants volunteers who serve in unpaid advisory capacities on various boards and commissions to file more detailed disclosures.

She told Cecil Times that some of her constituents have expressed concerns that “some department heads ” are “possibly profiting from certain decisions.” However, she refused to specify who made such accusations and said “I’m not saying who” among department heads were the targets of such allegations.

The state law mandating tougher ethics standards for county and local governments did not require the provisions Broomell is seeking and a majority of the county commissioners rejected her demands a week ago. But she said she wants the discussion re-opened at the next commissioners’ worksession and wants to get her proposals approved and put out to another public hearing in the next few weeks.

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5 Responses to Cecil County Commissioners: Broomell, Hodge Take Road Trip; Ethics Code Redux

  1. Al Reasin on October 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Commissioner Broomell insinuates that department heads in Cecil County government have conflicts of interest but won’t provide evidence, just accusations. This is the same tactic she has used against the Department of Public works when trying to move road code variances appeals from the Circuit Court to the Board of Commissioners; she continues to neglect to speak about the compromise offered by Mr. Flanigan to establish an appeals board staffed with professionals for road variance appeals, as the county has established for other appeal processes.

    Commissioner Broomell has stated for the record that the Cecil County Patriots are a special interest for developers and has labeled as being anti-property rights some who have opposed her actions as commissioner; she again does this with no evidence to support her claims. This is a now typical political tactic made so famous by Richard Nixon and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

    The Patriots have challenged Commissioners Broomell and Dunn publicly in the proper forum with facts and are accused of attacking them personally, but apparently the media finds accusations with no facts from the same commissioners acceptable. And here I thought the Fourth Estate was the purveyor of the truth and would question in depth open ended accusations based on nothing more than hot air.

    The Times does a good job of routing out facts; it’s a shame the major media outlet for Cecil County with the most clout and resources, the Whig, fails to do the job that the Fourth Estates was entrusted by the Founders by the 1st Amendment.

  2. Donna Caudell on October 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    There are two issues here, one which obviously will never be put to rest by Broomell– Hodge’s properties. Broomell has had access to which properties Hodge owns, but she has chosen not to access those records. Hodge went out of his way, to show his properties to her and she’s still “concerned?” Her obsession with Hodge’s properties will never end. Everyone that Broomell comes in contact with hears about “Hodge’s properties.” Commissioner Hodge, thank you for your efforts in trying to put this issue to rest.

    In reference to the Ethics code, Broomell wants to re-open an ethics decision that was just made because some of her constituents have expressed concerns, yet she provides no evidence to back up those concerns? Where’s the transparency? Rather than waste the taxpayers’ time when they could be doing something a little more productive to actually help all the people that are out of work in the county, the commissioners should adopt a new procedure, that, unless you can provide evidence, a decision should not be re-opened. This “he said”, “she said” and “I heard” from Broomell is getting a little old.

  3. Jackie on October 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Commissioner Broomell seems to have more in common with the crowd at “Occupy Wall Street” than the TEA party. She is perfectly content for someone who has been economically unsuccessful and is living off the system to make decisions for the county, but when it comes to those who have been successful in private business, she doesn’t want those individuals to have a voice in county matters.

    Frankly, I stopped discussing my concerns over county issues with her a few months ago, because I got tired of every conversation about every issue somehow going back to Hodge’s properties. I asked her more than once to see for herself what he disclosed about his properties in the public record, but she didn’t bother to take that little effort to do it. It was easier to continue to disparage his character to private citizens and use the distrust she created to support her own agenda, than to actually do some fact finding to find out if there were legitimate concerns.

    I appreciate what Hodge attempted to do, although it should have been totally unneccesary, but it really won’t matter with Commissioner Broomell, because the only things she sees are the things that support her agenda.

  4. Ed Burke on October 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    The road trip should be called “Driving Miss Crazy.” Many “concerned citizens” have remarked that they have questions about her fitness to serve…. The “concerned citizens” should, of course, remain anonymous, just like her “citizens” who supposedly make unsubstantiated accusations against county employees.

  5. Tina Sharp on November 2, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Ed Burke, that is funny! Broomell knew during the election the locations of the Hodge properties, because her signs found a home during the election on his RT 40 properties. That would be because Robert Hodge supports all Republicans! Ahh, now the properties are a problem? Hopefully her signs will not find a home back on those same properties.

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