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Five Shades of Grey: Broomell Bondage of Cecil County Council–Election Rants on Horses, Ethics

February 12, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

News Analysis

The Cecil County Council has been tied up in knots— some might say a “Five Shades of Grey” political bondage—by recent take-colleagues-as-prisoners attacks by Cecil County Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4), full of salacious verbiage with little if any factual substantiation on issues as unrelated as horses and ethics.

Not since the 2011-2012 heydays of the old “Three Amigos” majority of the Cecil County Commissioners—led by Broomell– have citizens and fellow lawmakers been subjected to so many unsubstantiated claims and attacks, with so little supporting facts, as Diana Broomell has been spewing for the past few weeks and months. Even routine approval of the minutes of past meetings have become half-hour debates on what Broomell wants to add to the bare-bones record of issues and votes, so as to add her personal “spin” on issues.

Broomell, whose County Council seat is at stake in this year’s elections, has said she plans to file for re-election. But in many of her verbal attacks lately she seems to think she is running against her fellow Councilors—most of whose seats are not at stake in 2014 and who reside in districts other than the one in which she would have to run for re-election. (Two Republican candidates, and one Democrat, have already filed their candidacies to run for Broomell’s Council seat.)

Her most recent verbal assaults on Tuesday, 2/11/14, centered on a more than year-old marketing plan by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) to develop a multi-site, statewide promotional effort to encourage tourism and equine events at three currently existing horse facilities in the state, including the state-owned Fair Hill natural resources area and equine facilities in Cecil County.

Indeed, the MHIB is holding a meeting later this month with a nationally-recognized equine marketing expert to advise the state on how to promote horse-related tourism at multiple sites.

The County Council was briefed in 2012 by Ross Peddicord, executive director of the MHIB, about a new marketing concept to link three existing equine facilities in the state—including Fair Hill—to attract sporting events and tourists to each of the facilities without any physical changes to the existing sites. [SEE previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2012/09/tally-ho-cecil-county-new-state-horse-park-plans-to-promote-fair-hill-tourism/ ] And the proposal was further discussed at a Cecil County Council worksession about a month ago.

The state long ago abandoned a past suggestion to build a major equine arena at Fair Hill—which was opposed by some local residents and many out-of-state users of the riding trails at the site located adjacent to the Pennsylvania and Delaware state lines.

But Broomell this week attacked fellow Council members over a simple letter to the state to voice support for developing the marketing plan, saying she didn’t trust state officials and wanted to delay even a letter of interest by the County Council in the marketing initiative. She demanded that an innocuous letter include a statement that “we’re in no way turning over our authority” over Fair Hill. But Fair Hill is owned by the state and the county has no “authority” over it at all.

First, Broomell wanted to delay the broad letter of interest, saying the public was uninformed about the issue despite the 2012 public discussions. When County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) questioned her demands, Broomell declared, “Mr. Hodge does not want the public to be in on the discussion.”

Hodge hit his gavel, saying, “You’re out of order.” But she continued, turning her attack mode on Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1), saying that “you ran on a platform” of “transparency” and “this is stonewalling.”

“DIANA!” Hodge called out as he hit his gavel to again call her out of order.

County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) said “It makes us look foolish” for Broomell to insist on her addition to the letter and McCarthy said Broomell’s delay bid was “a waste of time.”

“Some members of the Council continue to drag their feet when matters of economic development come before the board,” Bowlsbey declared, glaring at Broomell. After votes on Broomell’s stalling request and sending the simple letter went against her, the Council voted to send its general support for the horse marketing plan with just Broomell and her usual silent ally, Councilor Michael Dunn (R-3), voting no.

Then there is the perpetual Broomell attempt to control the county’s Ethics Commission, ever since County Executive Tari Moore removed Walt Rozanski, a Broomell-Dunn acolyte, from the ethics panel last year after he posted multiple attacks on county elected officials on social media sites, even while the ethics panel was reviewing complaints against them filed by Broomell—complaints that were dismissed by the panel.

At the council’s 2/4/14 worksession, Broomell persisted in advancing her proposal to limit the powers of the County Executive, specified in the county’s Charter, to remove a member of the Ethics Commission—despite the county attorney’s opinion that her plan was illegal under the Charter. And she turned her persistence into an attack on the lawyer, the county executive, and other members of the council.

The county attorney, Jason Allison, and other councilors pointed out that such a limit on the executive’s powers would require an amendment to the Charter through a voter referendum.

“That’s what the council would like us to believe,” Broomell declared, saying that because some other counties in the state have limits on the appointment powers of the executive Cecil County should be able to do the same. “We go by the Cecil County Charter,” said McCarthy.

Allison pointed out that other counties may have different language in their charters but Cecil County’s document is quite clear on the issue. And an attempt to enact a “code amendment” that conflicted with the Charter would be pointless and illegal, because “the Charter always prevails,” Allison told her.

“The length he goes to—the legalese,” retorted Broomell, who is not a lawyer and is a former secretary who took a few courses at the then Cecil Community College. Broomell said she would post her take on the issue on her website, which carries an authority line for her political campaign finance committee. And despite the legal warning and a clear majority of the Council opposed to her initiative, she refused to withdraw it and planned to force it to a future vote.

Then, at this week’s council worksession, Broomell raised the issue again and attacked Bowlsbey, who led the group that wrote the county Charter that was overwhelmingly approved by county voters in 2010.

Broomell directed her venom at Bowlsbey, saying “you weren’t elected” and claimed that Bowlsbey should “recuse” herself from any vote on the ethics proposal because she was “appointed by the county executive.” But Bowlsbey said there was no reason to do so and she would not recuse herself from a vote.

So Broomell came up with yet another reason she thought Bowlsbey should refrain from voting: “You’re emotionally invested in this,” Broomell declared.

Meanwhile, Broomell was unhappy at the 1/28/14 worksession with a proposal by the Maryland Transportation Authority to locate a $200 million railcar maintenance facility in the Perryville area that would bring 90 jobs to the county.

Despite the jobs and construction investment for the facility, Broomell demanded “something in writing” to make it “mandatory that those employees will come from Cecil County.” No matter that state and federal law would make such a demand patently illegal.

Then there were multiple attacks on the media—including the Cecil Whig which Broomell faults for not publishing her attack on the chair of an advisory panel on drugs and alcohol addiction.

Not having actually read the pop-porn “Fifty Shades” novel, we can only surmise that the many hours of political bondage and gagging verbiage in which our County Council has been tied up by one Council member amount to the local government version of soft-core political porn.

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20 Responses to Five Shades of Grey: Broomell Bondage of Cecil County Council–Election Rants on Horses, Ethics

  1. Joe C on February 12, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    It may be porn, but the taxpayers are being given the shaft by the increase in spending and growth of the budget by the “Free Spending Three”(Hodge, Bowlsbey and McCarthy). Now we are getting involved with a Horse Track, last week it was a Regional Park, what is next a circus?? Live up to your purported values as Republicans and support smaller government and less taxes!

    • Ron Lobos on February 13, 2014 at 9:41 am

      Joe, I do support you on the problem with overspending in the county. However, I will reserve my criticism for the final vote on the budget. My feeling right now is that no matter how much money you give any of the county departments, it will never be enough.

      I respect the school system and the fine job that they do, but is all of the additional money necessary? This year, they were given … [money] toward a new trade school, appropriated $14M to build a new Gilpin Manor Elementary school and $19M to rebuild Perryville Middle school. That was all up and above the $70M that was paid from the county budget.

      Now, from what I was shown at the CCPS budget meeting at the school board, they will be asking for an additional $6.5M just to operate what they call “bare bones bottom numbers.” That will be 3.5% of the total county budget on top of the 48% they already get. Where does it end?

      At that rate, the CCPS will consume the total County budget in just 14 years. In order for this not to happen, and to be fair to all of the other departments, we would have to double our taxes just to keep our heads above water. (Common Sense Arithmetic)

      It is important that we draw the line. I am not trying to cut back funding to any department. I am just asking all departments to hold the line this year. This is just “common sense.” It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education, than to have education without common sense.

      • Joe MacDonald on February 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

        Your common sense arithmetic fails to recognize that every department’s budget request grows by 1-5% each and every year. The County Council then pares down each department’s request to meet the county’s projected budget based on state allocations. Saying that the CCPS budget will take over the county budget is just nonsense and sensationalism! Stop scaring people and do your homework.

        The future of Cecil County depends on a well educated and highly skilled work force. That doesn’t come cheap and we should not cut corners. Today’s students will be counted on to take care of us when we retire. You got an education to meet the needs of your generation. Why short change today’s youth?

        • Ron Lobos on February 14, 2014 at 8:14 am

          Joe MacDonald, this is the typical mindset of all government agencies. They are so used to taking this 1.5% increase in budget that is is taken for granted. This is not sensationalism, it is simple math. You also failed to recognize the additional funds given to the CCPS that are listed under capital improvements instead of their budget. Bottom line is, they are given a tremendous amount of money.

          Education is important; however, all of this education does us no good if these children have no jobs to go to when they graduate. Cecil County depends on jobs to pay the taxes that support our education system. Let not make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse. The true definition of short changing our children would be to hand them a tremendous amount of debt and no job to help pay for it. Education is high on the list, but you can’t feed your family your diploma.

          • David W on February 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm

            Ron, your argument fails to recognize that there will be NO future jobs in Cecil County without the investment in our infrastructure.

            That investment includes not only water/sewer/internet – but also education.

      • Joe C on February 14, 2014 at 6:09 am

        Ron,
        Agree! you have to wonder why it takes 14M to build a new school (Gilpin Manor) but 19 million to rebuild Perryville middle! Sounds like fuzzy math. If it keeps snowing we will also need a Snowy Day Fund!

    • RED 833 on February 14, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Not a horse track and will cost the county nothing. Good way to retrieve some of our tax money from Annapolis. Remember when Broomell was all for tourism? She seems to be trying to kill county economic development and increase the cost of government (county auditor and separate attorney for council)so that she can attack charter. She should quit attacking Moore and do her job.

  2. Bob Gatchel on February 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    (Sigh) — if this were not so sad it would actually be funny. Diana, c’mon hon, you are really becoming a cartoon. MAYBE time to reconsider re-election. PLEASE!

    • Joe MacDonald on February 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      She was a cartoon when she was first elected. She has now morphed into a clown. Step down Diana for your sake but more importantly for the sake of Cecil County. PLEASE!!!

      • Ron Lobos on February 15, 2014 at 6:51 am

        I agree with Joe on this one Diana, you have become a complete embarrassment. It’s important in life to know when to call it quits.

  3. Politics for Dummies on February 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Unfortunately, this porn (“Five Shades of Grey”) is only self-gratifying. Everyone I’ve talked to finds it (her) repulsive!

    As for the question, “what is next: a circus?” — we already have one and it’s located at 377 Hutton Rd– the Buddy animal shelter! I think our porn star had a lot to do with bringing “in the clowns.”

  4. Joe C on February 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    The only clown we have is the county executive, we just do not know what outfit she will have on day to day!

    • Jeannette H on February 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

      You are kidding Joe C. There are several clowns in this county government and Mrs. Broomell is certainly one of them, as is Mrs. Moore and Mr. Wein.

      • Politics for Dummies on February 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

        I wholeheartedly agree with Jeannette H. I used to be a staunch supporter of Tari Moore but actions speak much louder than words. Yes, I’d have to say she has fallen in to a similar light, along with Mr. Wein. It is very disheartening when attending Citizens Corner meetings and the Director of Administration (appointed by the County Executive) is rolling his eyes and yawning. Is he, or is he not, representing our County Executive who, sadly, can’t be bothered hearing what taxpayers have to say. I think Cecil County needs a wake up call (as does Al Wein).

        • RED 833 on February 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

          Citizens Corner has deteriorated into “The Broomell Hour”. The time is typically used by ringers she has brought in to advance her positions. Sad that she misleads single issue people by using distorted facts. Once the brighter ones realize that have been used they go away. Her reliable parrots are there weekly. Team Broomell. The County Executive can listen to the audio. Mr. Wein puts in a long week on county business. I would yawn too.

  5. Diana Christina Broomell on February 14, 2014 at 2:31 am

    I wanted to provide my response just in case there are those reading this ridiculously slanted reporting who are actually seeking facts:

    I have been very vocal in my concern that the public has been intentionally left out of the process in commenting on the County Executive’s application to be a part of the Maryland Stadium Authority’s Maryland Horse Park.

    You can hear the audio ( http://ccgov.org/uploads/cmup/Council/ws/02.04.14.wksession.07.CouncilManagerReport.mp3 ) on February 4th during the Council Manager’s Report, that the draft application conveniently didn’t make the agenda for the worksession because the application was submitted the prior Friday – one day too late. It’s interesting that Mr. Massey said Economic Development handed him the application but the application wasn’t linked to the February 11 agenda because they claimed it was only a draft and that the final hadn’t been completed yet. In fact, it was only provided at the last minute to the Council for the February 11th worksession.

    I requested that we schedule the endorsement as a proposed resolution and then we would have the opportunity to advertise for the public to comment. Ms. Bowlesby and Mr. McCarthy said it wasn’t possible because the application had to be submitted by February 14th. Mr. Massey stated it would require 2 weeks for a Resolution and there wasn’t enough time to present before February 14. The item was only added to the February 11th agenda at my insistance and when I asked if the public would have access to the application we were provided, that’s when Mr. McCarthy and Ms. Bowlesby insisted it was only a draft and that it would not be provided. I asked, what is the Council voting on then if it’s only a draft and that I didn’t want to vote on anything until I had a final. I pointed out that this was sounding familiar and that this was the same kind of games that we had to deal with as before.

    Nothing changes the fact that it was the responsibility of the County Executive to submit on time so the public would be a part of the process of review and comment. The 3 members of the Council (Hodge, McCarthy and Bowlesby) who supported the application were aware of the short timeline, had no problem with it and supports this continued method of governance.

    • RED 833 on February 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

      I well remember the old “Three Amigos” era of governance. Bromell was not interested in public input and comment when they approved the animal control contract as an “emergency” at the last minute just before Mullin left office. That involved changing the terms of the request for proposal to benefit Buddies for Life. I assume that was one of the “games” to which she refers.

      Broomell used to support tourism but now tries to delay this tourism project , which will cost the county nothing. Seems as though she wants to sabotage county progress in order to make charter government look unsuccessful. Someone should tell her that the County Executive race is in two years and she should stop campaigning against Moore and do her own job.

    • Harold McCanick on February 14, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      “The public was intentionally left out,” you say? Three words apply here: Buddies for Life! Hypocrisy deserves ridicule. Your perception is not reality, and in fact, you seem to be down right delusional. You are the ring leader of your own three ring circus. I agree with a previous poster that you should step down for the good of the county.

      It’s a shame the charter doesn’t have a council recall provision; you are a perfect example of why there should be one. I’m sorry, but it looks like the empress(wannabe) has no clothes.

    • David W on February 15, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      First of all, Diana, it was not an application from the County Executive – it was an application on behalf of the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area to be nominated to be part of the Maryland Horse Park marketing effort. The County Council and County Executive were asked to provide a letter of support.

      Furthermore, this concept is not new at all. In September of 2012, Ross Peddicord presented the concept to the then County Commissioners. And soon after that, I recall you held your own public meeting for input.

      And then in May of last year, the Council voted to support a grant application for a feasibility study. To say the public has been left out of the process is nothing more than misleading.

  6. Jeannette H on February 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    My my Mrs. Bromell, aren’t you the demure one. You should be on the comedy circuit rather than the county council. Hypocrisy suits you well. Do you need to be reminded of all the back door deals you and your two minion amigos were responsible for and how much you all cost the taxpayers. I for one will never forget.

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