Dunn Names Ted Patterson to Cecil County Budget Advisory Panel; Latest in “Cronies” Appointees Criticized by County Activists

October 11, 2011

Thumbing his nose at citizen activists who have accused him of appointing political “cronies” to county positions, Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3) announced Tuesday that he will name Ted Patterson—a fellow member of the Smipkin political slate—to a seat on the citizens’ 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 state’s attorney who resigned from the budget panel recently to protest the current “political climate” 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, “In light of the current political climate, I do not feel that the majority of the County Commissioners have the public’s best interest at heart, and as such, my conscience will not allow me to be a part of the current process.” Halter was initially appointed after he wrote a general letter to all commissioners’ 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 “Three Amigos,” 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 group’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 “slate” 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 “Patriots,” the local “tea party” group.

A five-member citizens’ 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 panel’s findings, including revisions to employee spouses’ 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 Sheriff’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 Tuesday’s worksession, Moore said, with a smile, that she would welcome Patterson getting involved “in the process” 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 “Patriots” organization for Thorne’s “potty-mouthed” commentaries on Facebook and his role with the ARCA group’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 “slate” 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 Patriots’ group as examples of political “cronyism,” especially since other candidates the Patriots deemed more qualified had applied for the appointments.

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7 Responses to Dunn Names Ted Patterson to Cecil County Budget Advisory Panel; Latest in “Cronies” Appointees Criticized by County Activists

  1. Ed Burke on October 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Commissioner Dunn could diffuse criticism by providing Mr. Patterson’s qualifications for this position. Mr. Patterson should make his resume’ available.

    • Alexis on October 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

      I agree that Patterson’s qualifications for the position should be made public, just as applicants for other county boards and commissions must do. Strange that the “Fiscal Conservative Team” and Commissioner Broomell had so much to say about cronyism and the “good ole boys” when running for office (and running others down) and now they are worse.

  2. Joe C on October 12, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Instead of being on the Budget committee, Mr. Patterson should concern himself with the duties that he was elected to on the Republican Central Committee. As secretary, he has failed to provide meeting minutes to the members for the few meetings we have had, has provided meeting agendas at the last minute, and has failed to update the web site. For example, on CecilGOP.com the “next” meeting is scheduled for July 2011.

    Boy, I cannot wait to see what “great ideas” he comes up with on the budget committee.

  3. Totally Disgusted on October 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Get another dig in against Owen Thorne. At least he has the backbone to stand up for Cecil county residents, trying to stop Newark West. $200,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the money the county wastes. I never minded paying taxes for something that might actually be in my best interest, i. e. ARCA.

  4. sick of BS on October 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Commissioner Dunn is an embarrassment… What are his qualifications again? Doesn’t he live in low income susbsidized housing? I noticed he won’t answer that question. He recently stated in the Cecil Guardian that he “did not know” if his county wages are being garnished for not paying his debts. Really? Is this someone we want making major decisions for Cecil County? He is one of the most arrogant and unprofessional people I have ever met. He needs to GO!

  5. JD on October 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I think your mistaken in claiming Patterson is an appendage of the Pipkin-Smigiel club. He’s a hard-working guy with a number of connections in county GOP politics. With that said, there are lot of folks with significant budget experience that should be on this board and are not.

  6. Tina Sharp on November 2, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    “Sick of BS,” you are funny! JD, I don’t think you know Patterson if you don’t think he is an appendage of the Smipkins. LOL, he has a reputation of starting anything, never seeing him during the work phase, and coming in at the end. I personally worked with him twice; both time he was worthless. He is not hardworking at all. He does nothing.

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