Dunn Names Ted Patterson to Cecil County Budget Advisory Panel; Latest in “Cronies” Appointees Criticized by County Activists
Thumbing his nose at citizen activists who have accused him of appointing political â€ścroniesâ€ť to county positions, Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3) announced Tuesday that he will name Ted Pattersonâ€”a fellow member of the Smipkin political slateâ€”to a seat on the citizensâ€™ budget advisory committee.
It was the fourth controversial appointment in about as many months by Dunn, who announced his intention at a Tuesday morning worksession of the county commissioners. However, unlike some past Dunn appointments, he did not try to force the issue to an immediate vote and said he would give fellow commissioners time to consider the matter.
Patterson would replace Michael J. Halter, a part-time assistant stateâ€™s attorney who resigned from the budget panel recently to protest the current â€śpolitical climateâ€ť among a three-member majority of the current Board of County Commissioners.
In a late September resignation letter to the commissioners, Halter, a Republican, said, â€śIn light of the current political climate, I do not feel that the majority of the County Commissioners have the publicâ€™s best interest at heart, and as such, my conscience will not allow me to be a part of the current process.â€ť Halter was initially appointed after he wrote a general letter to all commissionersâ€™ volunteering to serve on the original budget panel.
Dunn and Commissioners James Mullin (R-1) and Diana Broomell (R-4) have become a voting bloc, locally dubbed the â€śThree Amigos,â€ť that generally controls the five-member Board of Commissioners.
Patterson is President of the Cecil County Young Republicans Club, which he and Dunn co-founded while Dunn was working as an aide to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), according to the groupâ€™s website. Patterson is also Secretary of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, of which Dunn is also a member. Dunn and Patterson ran on a â€śslateâ€ť of candidates in the 2010 election that was organized by Smigiel and financed primarily by Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36), and which was also supported by related political groups and a political action committee financed largely by Mullin, according to state campaign finance records.
[See previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2010/09/cecil-county-republican-drama-moving-the-money-around-and-around/ ]
Patterson was also a Republican candidate for Delegate but was narrowly defeated by incumbent David Rudolph (D-34B) in November. During the campaign, Patterson refused to attend public candidate forums sponsored by the county Chamber of Commerce and the Cecil County â€śPatriots,â€ť the local â€śtea partyâ€ť group.
A five-member citizensâ€™ budget advisory panel was convened for the first time earlier this year to assist the County Commissioners in the budget process. Each commissioner was permitted to name one citizen to the panel, and by all accounts the panel members functioned well and without partisanship before submitting a list of recommendations to the County Commissioners.
However, the commissioners ignored most of the panelâ€™s findings, including revisions to employee spousesâ€™ healthcare and opposition to layoffs or firings. The county school system had to lay off employees in order to cope with budget cuts by the commissioners.
Patterson was the author, or at least co-author, of a $10 million budget slashing proposal put out in the names of Mullin and Dunn last winter that primarily targeted perceived political foes of the Smipkin organization, including the Sheriffâ€™s Department, the county Economic Development Department and the Cecil County SPCA. But that proposal died a quick death as the budget process proceeded, although Patterson has continued to post online commentaries critical of the county budget process and Commissioners Robert Hodge (R-5) and Tari Moore (R-2).
During Tuesdayâ€™s worksession, Moore said, with a smile, that she would welcome Patterson getting involved â€śin the processâ€ť of the difficult decisions required in making budget choices.
Patterson is the just the latest controversial appointment made by Dunn. Dunn appointed Owen Thorne, an activist with the Appleton Regional Community Alliance (ARCA) to an interim seat on the county Planning Commission. That appointment was criticized by the â€śPatriotsâ€ť organization for Thorneâ€™s â€śpotty-mouthedâ€ť commentaries on Facebook and his role with the ARCA groupâ€™s opposition to the sale of county water and wastewater plants to the private Artesian Resources firm that cost county taxpayers over $200,000 in legal bills.
Then Thorne stepped down and Dunn appointed his own political campaign treasurer, Skip Yust, to the planning slot. Dunn also appointed Carrie Taylor, a fellow Smipkin â€śslateâ€ť and GOP Central Committee member, to a paid seat on the county liquor board. [ See previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/06/cecil-county-commissioners-name-taylor-smipkin-ally-to-liquor-board/
Those appointments have been sharply criticized by the Patriotsâ€™ group as examples of political â€ścronyism,â€ť especially since other candidates the Patriots deemed more qualified had applied for the appointments.