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Broomell Disses State Transit Visitors at Cecil County Council; Another Black Eye for County’s Image, Decorum

June 4, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

A team of state transit officials trekked to Elkton Tuesday to meet, yet again, with Cecil County officials about a proposed MARC train maintenance yard that would bring 90 jobs to the county and tie in to future plans to extend the commuter train line to Elkton—but before the visitors barely opened their mouths, County Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4) was hurling insults.

Diane Ratcliff, director of the planning office of the Maryland Transit Administration, brought along a detailed PowerPoint presentation to illustrate her remarks, and Broomell complained she should have been given a copy of it in advance. Ratcliff then announced that a planned “open house” community meeting to discuss the project had been postponed from June until the fall, due to delays in federal transit officials’ reviews of the plan—setting off Broomell to claim the delay was intentional.

“This is all playing into your hands,” Broomell declared. “You’re having back door meetings…back room dealing and pushing through a project.”

“She is our guest here,” said Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1) “Listen to her.”

“Let’s listen to what they have to say,” added Council President Robert Hodge (R-5). “We haven’t heard anything yet.”

“This is outrageous,” Broomell retorted.

When the rhetoric cleared, Ratcliff explained that the MTA could not release all the details of the draft plan until it had been approved by federal officials, who could require changes since the project will receive federal funds. The open meeting was delayed so that citizens could have all the details of an authorized proposal, not preliminary data that might be changed later, she said.

The MARC train yard, which would be used primarily for storage, washing and basic maintenance of rail cars, would be located on land adjacent to the North East Corridor Amtrak rail line, and immediately across the tracks from the huge IKEA commercial warehouse complex. The property is also bordered by Route 7 and Principio Furnace road.

Ratcliff outlined the detailed site selection process that led to the Perryville area site, noting it had the fewest environmental issues or impacts on local communities of the many sites that were reviewed. And state transportation officials wanted the rail car storage facility to be located east of the Susquehanna River in anticipation of the much delayed extension of the MARC commuter rail line from Perryville to Elkton.

That prompted Broomell, yet again, to attack fellow Council members, saying she had not been included in meetings of transit officials with the County Executive in the past. And while one would “hope” that a “majority of the Council” would act “in the best interests of the citizens,” she intoned, “their pattern of behavior so far would suggest otherwise.”

In fact, Ratcliff and other MTA officials met with the full Council several months ago to brief them on the project. Ratcliff also outlined a series of meetings with individual homeowners in the area who had concerns about the project.

Ratcliff outlined design features such as land berms to mute noise and landscaping that would make the facility all but invisible along Route 7. Construction of the facility in two phases would focus on the site’s proximity to the existing rail tracks at the back of the site. The tentative schedule for the project calls for construction in 2017, with operations beginning in 2019.

Broomell then demanded that the MTA “commit on paper” to reserving 75 percent of the jobs for Cecil County residents—to which Ratcliff said the agency could not make such a guarantee. And Broomell ended up her outbursts where she began, protesting the delay of the open house meeting with the community for several months.

“Why, Why…that’s not an adequate answer,” she wailed.

“You’re out of order,” Hodge told her, hitting his gavel for order.

As the state officials left the meeting, the shell-shocked looks on their faces told the tale that, increasingly, is being told in Annapolis and in the corridors of state agencies: expect a hostile and rude reception from one Cecil County Council member whenever they venture to the county to discuss an issue or propose bringing jobs and investment to the county, etc.

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37 Responses to Broomell Disses State Transit Visitors at Cecil County Council; Another Black Eye for County’s Image, Decorum

  1. Bob Laird on June 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Gee, thanks Mrs. Broomell. Let’s analyze a key section here:

    “Ratcliff explained that the MTA could not release all the details of the draft plan until it had been approved by federal officials, who could require changes since the project will receive federal funds. The open meeting was delayed so that citizens could have all the details of an authorized proposal, not preliminary data that might be changed later, she said.”

    Now this means, Mrs. Broomell, that the information will be presented one time and properly so that there will be no confusion. The type of confusion that folks like you would be EQUALLY angry about after the fact with comments like “Well you SAID this would happen but NOW you’ve changed it to something else. Whose pocket are you in? Why wasn’t I notified? Who is making a profit off of this decision?”

    Give it a rest already.

    As of June 25th, you will be a Lame Duck and we can move on!

  2. Matt Roath on June 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Please don’t misinterpret my comments as support for Councilwoman Broomell or her antics, but I think your eagerness to criticize her is clouding the issue. I don’t believe there has been public transparency about this project. For that, I think she is correct.

    You seem to be angling this story as if because there are new jobs attributed to it then it has to be positive. And if it may benefit residents of Elkton in the future then it must be a good idea. I’ll assure you that the people who live near the proposed site, the people in our community (Perryville) and our elected officials have warranted concerns about this project and the impact it will have. I mean the land was secured only after the threat of imminent domain. That in itself should throw up red flags to Cecil County residents.

    I guess my point is this, please don’t lose sight of the actual story here. Broomell is a clown. This is true. She deserves to be pelted with your insults but don’t do it at the expense of a serious issue.

    Our community and the rest of western Cecil County gets picked on and/or neglected enough. If this project turns out to be detrimental to our community we’ll need the support of county to have any influence on it. Painting it as a no-brainer, win-win situation, in that regard, is borderline irresponsible.

    • Brian Jackson on June 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      One sentence (maybe two) of this article refers to the possible economic benefit of this project – the rest of it is just a narrative of statements made during a Council meeting.

      Perryville is a great town with good people and good leadership. Painting the community as “picked on” or “neglected” is self destructive.

  3. Diana Broomell on June 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    First I have to point out, Ms. Schwerzler, you are not a credible news source as all of your reporting is consistently slanted that it does little to resemble the truth. What your failing to report in this situation is all of the stonewalling and obstruction residents have encountered while trying to get information from MTA on the proposed Marc Layover Facility Project in Perryville. This is a residential area and they are proposing to put in an industrial operation adjacent to residential properties. The last minute cancellation of the open house scheduled for June 12 certainly didn’t help to alleviate the concern that the State, once again, is withholding information for their own gain. Coordination is required on this project which involves sharing of information.

    • RED 833 on June 6, 2014 at 5:20 am

      “This is all playing into your hands,” Broomell declared. “You’re having back door meetings…back room dealing and pushing through a project.” Sounds like Broomell is accusing others of her tactics. Remember when she went to the PSC armed with a letter from her mentor, Delegate Smigiel, thereby voiding the Artesian wastewater contract? Remember when she, Mullin and Dunn (The 3 Amigos) gave an “emergency” sweetheart deal to Buddies for Life? Vote her out on June 24th.

      • Politics for Dummies on June 13, 2014 at 8:24 am

        I agree that Broomell needs to go for the back door deals referenced as well as for her childish temper tantrums and incredibly rude behavior. At times, she makes very good points but they are lost by the manner in which she delivers them.

        On that note, while it was the 3 Stooges who gave Buddies for Life such a sweet deal, we now have the person in the highest position of power (who was originally against giving ABFL the contract) allowing them to continue in operation despite a multitude of breaches in contract and reports of neglect, abuse, public health issues, fire hazards and disease.

        I say this decision, along with several others, will come back to haunt Tari Moore when it’s time to decide whether she should be re-elected. It’s time people are held accountable for the jobs they are doing, or better yet, not doing.

        This is one taxpayer who is tired of the “good ole boy/girl” network who have more meetings to discuss meetings when there is real, in the trenches, work that needs to get done. Get your hands dirty and work or get voted out of office!

    • David on June 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Thanks for reminding me why I will be voting for George Patchell

  4. Kevin Howe on June 4, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I am one of the citizens who are trying to raise awareness and opposition to the proposed site as it sites. The Cecil County Council has been incredibly supportive of this – most especially Dianne Broomell. It is a shame that the incident occurred – that being said, it did not detract from the presentation by the MARC personnel present and it added a needed discord to the proceeding; allowing the folks from MARC to understand that the community at large is not happy with this choice of sites – and, that we have a lot of unanswered questions which are pertinent and important to the area.

    Additionally, the form and timing for the presentation disallowed a list of questions gathered from area homeowners from being asked. President Hodges and Council member Broomell were the only two who were able to get a few of these important questions asked – and Ms. Broomell had to finally request that the MTA answer the unasked ones in a separate communication – so, that they would (at the least) be aware of the concerns we asked to be raised (they responded to the affirmative and shall respond)

    So, although you may rail Ms. Broomell for a momentary incident her heart and her motives were aligned correctly with the entire council and the citizens of Cecil County in opposition to the MARC choice of sites.

  5. Mallory on June 5, 2014 at 6:02 am

    There is no excuse for being rude and hostile, on a regular basis, at public meetings. If there are points to be made and questions to be asked, it should be done in an intelligent and professional way. Even if her intentions were good, the good points get lost when an elected official behaves like a child who should be made to sit in the “naughty chair” in the corner. The citizens who are worried about this and made comments here made a better case for thier position than the elected official who is supposed to know better.

  6. Diana Broomell on June 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Just a few facts: I first learned of this project after receiving the notice of the MTA Open House first scheduled in October 2013. The layover project is required to go through the coordination process according to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because (generally speaking) federal funding will be used. Coordination involves the sharing and exchanging of information but since this project has been moving along, the sharing of information has been restricted. I was assured by President Hodge that the local residents were notified by mail. They were not. To get further information, I contacted the property owner on which the Layover Facility is proposed. During that discussion I learned for the first time that there were two meetings organized by Del. Rudolp which included County Ex. Moore, President Hodge the property owner with his representative. The Council was never informed of these meetings. The MTA considers those meetings part of coordination although there were no minutes provided on what was discussed. After a request was made by letter from the State to record noise levels, the property owner called the contact number and requested to know why the readings were being taken. No return phone call. I requested the information MTA has collected so far including the desktop analysis of the 10 other sites MTA has reviewed for the layover facility, the traffic impact analysis, environmental assessment (which MTA said they would provide at the June 12 Open House) and other data they have since collected for MTA to ultimately determine Perryvile is the best site for the layover facility. MTA Official, Deidre Smith, did previously confirm I could have copies of the Desktop Analysis and MTA’s Coordination Policy but that information was later denied. All of the other studies? We are now being told they cannot be released until the FTE reviews and approves and only then can we review and have 30 days to comment. We still have not received a response from County Executive Moore on whether she approves of the Layover Project at this location. I am trying to represent the citizens in this area and the best interest of Cecil County. The only benefit of the Layover Facility would be the 60 jobs that could “possibly” go to Cecil County Citizens. The 130 acres MTA is proposing to use for this project will be taken off our property tax rolls resulting in a potential loss of millions in future Cecil County revenue not to mention loss of property value for the surrounding property owners. This is an industrial operation in a residentially zone area. I appreciate that more attention has been brought to this project and hope more citizens and elected officials start asking for more responsiveness from MTA and FTE as NEPA intended.

    • Rick O'Shea on June 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Ms Broomell,

      You would be more effective as a representative if you treated others with respect. I suggest that you and a counselor (not Councilor) sit down together and review videos of this and other council sessions. Feedback from a health professional might cause you to re-evaluate your methods.

  7. Joe C on June 6, 2014 at 4:45 am

    My concern with this project is that Cecil County will again be the dumping ground for potentially toxic and hazardous waste generated from the refurbishment of railcars. Many questions need to be answered so that we do not generate more Pearce Creek, Woodlawn or Spectron situations. Cecil County has more Super Fund sites then any other county in Maryland. If these cars are mainly used in the Baltimore area, that seems a good place to maintain them. I am against the strong arm tactics of the MTA. We need a strong negioator

    • Nick c. on June 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      THAT,sir, is the relevant and informative comment I’ve seen iin this discussion.

      • Joe C on June 13, 2014 at 8:59 am

        Thank you!

  8. Kelly Frost on June 6, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I like the fact that questions are being raised. Why make a presentation if you don’t have all the facts? It’s like saying follow me on this – hop on board – but we don’t know how we are safely or monetarily going to make this happen. What concerns me is that the entire council should be asking these questions.

  9. Stupid Intolerant on June 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Mr.C,
    A negotiation is a dialogue between two parties. Diana Broomell does not grasp this concept.

    Let’s get hypothetical for a second. George Patchell is the council person for this district, he lives in Perryville and has the town’s best interest at heart. He expresses concerns of the community to the rest of the County Council, the county executive and the MTA in a rational way. Constructive solutions are sought and the county’s reputation is not tarnished. You have to admit this would be a better strategy.

    P.S. Diana Broomell, How does it feel (BFL, Artesian) to be excluded? Don’t worry, the voters are going to put you out of your misery on June 24th.

    • Joe C on June 8, 2014 at 7:07 am

      The only party that George Patchell will be concerned with will be the residents of 950 Smiley Way, York, PA. If you do not believe me just check the campaign finance reports. At least Diana Broomell is not accepting contributions which will create conflicts of interest down the road when decisions need to be made by the council.

      • Brian Jackson on June 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm

        There are no contributions to anyone at that address…only two expenditures. One expenditure is for billboards, the other one doesn’t say what it’s for but it’s the same payee (Apple Outdoor Advertising-same company that owns many of the billboards in Cecil County).

        • Joe C on June 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm

          Brian,
          Please check “in-kind” donations schedule. This means they gave him a billboard. While you are at it check all candidate’s campaign filings.

          • Melanie B on June 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

            Joe C,.
            I looked at the disclosure form and there is no in-kind donation listed for Apple Outdoor. There is an outstanding balance of $1,600. You are either trying to be deceptive or you can’t read the form. Which one is it?

          • Brian Jackson on June 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm

            Checked both, no in-kind donations recorded.

          • Joe C on June 12, 2014 at 9:18 pm

            Brian/Melanie:
            You are correct on the in-kind donation, however it is much worst than I first thought. Here we have a candidate that has spent more($2200) than he has in his bank account($500), should be a perfect fit for the “Free Spending Three” who like to raise the debt by 50%.

      • RED 833 on June 9, 2014 at 8:34 am

        Broomell and Dunn take their orders from 136 E Main Street, Smipkin Island. She has cost the county millions and counting through carrying out an anti-business agenda. She and Dunn need to go.

        • Joe C on June 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

          Red 833,
          Still beating the same old drum! Ms. Broomell and Mr. Dunn have not cost the county millions, you are obliviously confused with Tari Moore and the “Free Spending Three”, who increased the debt by 50% and counting!

          • RED 833 on June 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm

            Artesian wastewater deal. Farm development rights. Zoning illegalities. $$$$$. Debt was not increased by 50%. Check the facts before posting.

          • Joe C on June 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

            RED 833,
            Please let me repeat one more time for the slow learners…The ARTESIAN “Deal” or lack of it did not cost the taxpayers a dime because it would have been part of an Enterprise fund, paid for by RATE PAYERS. Artesian would have been insured a rate of return on their investment under Public Utility commission procedures. This profit would be paid by the rate payers in the form of high sewer fees. Just look at Elkton’s situation. No rights were taken from farmers and Debt was increased by 50%. Previous debt was 140 million, the the “Free Spending Three” added 70 million. Simple math unless you use Common Core procedures!

          • RED 833 on June 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm

            Joe C
            Wrong on all counts. The county should not be in the utility business.

          • Joe C on June 19, 2014 at 5:49 am

            How come you do not come out against county being in the park business? How convenient! Afraid you may lose some votes.

        • RED 833 on June 20, 2014 at 6:48 am

          Joe C
          I am for parks. You don’t see me on the ballot. Broomell and her “no-growth” crowd have cost the county millions.

          • Joe C on June 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm

            RED,
            Wrong on both counts! You are on the ballot and Diana Broomell has saved the rate payers millions. It is the “Free Spending Three” that have cost the taxpayer millions. How do you spell 50% increase in debt. Bills are coming due!

          • RED 833 on June 23, 2014 at 7:49 am

            Joe C, How has Broomell saved the county millions? The increase in “debt” is an “ability to issue bonds”. No new debt as been incurred. The bond rating went up. Looks like the pros disagree with you.

      • Harold McCanick on June 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

        Dianna Broomell couldn’t raise enough money to buy a Happy Meal.

        • Bob Laird on June 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

          Now, Harold. That’s not true. She collects Boxtops after all.

  10. Opinionated mom on June 8, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I don’t agree with most of the things Broomell says, but even worse, she embarrasses our county with her lack of professionalism.

    Ms. Broomell, you aren’t doing any favors for women in leadership.

  11. Freddie on June 18, 2014 at 6:52 am

    So let me get this straight, Ms. Broomell can be threatened with duct tape (and a Deputy stationed at meeting in case the little woman gets out of hand) at a Council meeting and NOBODY has a problem with this behavior? I guess attempting to intimidate is business as usual in Cecil County government.

    Some of you should familiarize yourselves with “Jenny” or join a support group for [people] who could only contribute to Cecil County if you relocated.

  12. Brian on June 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Attempting to make this a gender issue is inaccurate, and belittling to women.

    The real behavior that needs to be addressed is that of the other 4 members of the Cecil County Council.

    The words and actions of Diana Broomell during her time as an elected official speak for themselves. In the words of a recent Cecil Whig letter to the editor, “…you might think she is some sort of a nutcase.” Enough said.

    But here’s the question we should be asking – where is she getting the power to continue this behavior?

    The answer? The other 4 members of the County Council.

    I encourage you to listen to some audio of the Council worksession meetings. It’s disturbing.

    The entire agenda is dominated by one person – Broomell. Attacking guest presenters, county staff, other elected officials, etc., appears to be standard. Even during the Council comment time, Broomell dominates the reports of the other Council members by arguing or interjecting her opinion over her colleagues.

    Where is Council President Hodge and why does he allows this to happen? In the vacuum of his leadership, why aren’t the other 3 council members demanding that council decorum, Robert’s Rules of order, and just plain common courtesy be followed?

    While Broomell definitely doesn’t deserve to be reelected, Cecil County deserves better leadership than we’re getting from the other four people on the County Council. Broomell’s a liability, but she’s being enabled by the rest of the Council.

    • Joe C on June 19, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Brian
      Diana is the only one standing up for the taxpayer, rater payer and citizens. She does call out others if they are not being open or presenting misleading information. Just go to our mailbox today and look at the mailer put out by Cecil Business Leaders for Bigger Government, they are attempting to portray that Dunn and Broomell are for bigger government, when in fact it is their candiates who either sit by silent when bigger debt(50% increase) is being put on the back of taxpayers and rate payers or voted for it.

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THANK YOU, Cecil County voters, for endorsing my campaign for Delegate.
--Alan McCarthy