Letters To The Editor
[The Cecil Times is launching a new feature, Letters to the Editor. (We still welcome comments on individual news articles.) Sound off on any local, regional or state issue but we have some ground rules: please supply a name and a real email address (the email address will not be published) so we can verify it and avoid spam. Letters should be emailed to: email@example.com. We will then post letters on this page, with the most recent letters on top of the page. Cecil Times reserves the right to publish letters, or not, at our discretion. Keep it short, keep it clean, keep it civil.]
FROM: Tammy Pollard
Having just had the opportunity to review audio from the January 28 Oversight Committee/Animal Control meeting, I wanted to relay some of the information disclosed and comments made that would surely raise ethical flags.
First, during review of financials, intakes, etc., oversight committee member Ricky Lewis begins answering questions that are being addressed to AB4L (A Buddy for Life.) He attempts to justify the lack of information on day-to-day county funded intakes vs AB4L transfers and related costs (e.g. ‚Äúsummer time will be worse‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúDecember and January are lowest numbers‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúOUR best month‚ÄĚ). He continues providing numerous cheers of ‚Äúgood job‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúgood for the County‚ÄĚ (gag me with a pom pom).
It is no big secret that he is very friendly and works with AB4L and the veterinarian who oversees the animals‚Äô care at the facility. Conflict of interest?
Next, you have Jenn Callahan, the co-director of AB4L, admitting that a dog attack was ‚Äėinadvertently‚Äô left off of the quarterly report. How do you forget to include an attack that resulted in injury and death when the animal had to be quarantined at the facility for 10 days? In the same breath she states she is always ‚Äúopen and honest‚ÄĚ but somehow failed to include the food aggression in the advertisement stating the dog was super friendly and great with other animals, children, etc. Also stated was the dog was placed in the home as an adoption ‚Äútest drive‚ÄĚ but the woman who was attacked has stated she was only providing a foster home and had no intention of adopting the dog.
Other questions addressed concerns with cross-contamination from Animal Control to boarded family pets. To avoid this an entrance was moved? A door? There is a shared kitchen area, bathroom, sink, washing machine and dryer along with outside grounds where animals urinate and deficate. Anyone with any sense knows that diseases (especially parvo) can be spread through contaminated soil. Parvo can even be spread from a person‚Äôs shoe. So rainwater washes infected feces from point animal control to point private boarding facility and dog is under 8 day hold. Who is liable if a private boarding dog at Mrs. Thompson‚Äôs side gets sick?
Considering there was no valid state license and the County failed to follow up on that requirement, I believe this would open up law suits from anyone with an unsavory dealing with Animal Control during that period. There were a lot of valid questions asked and it will be quite interesting to hear the feedback if they are ever addressed in a future meeting.
It was also stated that the Meeting Minutes would be brought current by the ‚Äúend of the week‚ÄĚ ‚Äď – now almost a month later and they still aren‚Äôt current. I think more Cecil County taxpayers need to attend the Citizens Corner meetings or, at the very least, review the minutes/audio from meetings to get a true understanding of where your tax dollars are going and who they are benefitting.
FROM: Dr. D’Ette W. Devine
Superintendent, Cecil County Public Schools
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the hard work of the County Roads Division during this winter season. Their diligence has made it possible for us to open schools and safely transport students when other school systems were unable to do so. As Superintendent of Schools and a resident of Cecil County, I am truly appreciative of their tireless efforts to provide safe driving conditions in challenging winter weather.
The cooperative relationship that exists and the communication that occurs between our organizations serve as a model for other county government agencies and school systems. The evidence of this partnership is reflected in the timely, precise, and effective decision-making process that occurs when we are facing inclement weather.
On behalf of the students and staff of Cecil County Public Schools, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all of the employees of the County Roads Division. Their dedication has certainly not gone unnoticed.
FROM: Rebecca Demmler
I reviewed the Strategic Plan and although impressed by the numbers of people who took time to volunteer for this task and the time spent on it, I am left questioning the intent. Perhaps it is my own misunderstanding. I had visualized a Strategic Plan as being a definite plan of action towards a specific goal. Instead, this document is confined to a compilation of goals and objectives. It speaks of our rich history and natural beauty and goes into demographics and interspersed and repeated throughout this ‚Äúplan‚ÄĚ are the priorities of ensuring the health, education, economic development, and infrastructure and fiscal stability. In short, the goal is to provide for the overall welfare of the citizens. This is intrinsic within our Charter and Code and the many documents presently in place.
I realize that Cecil County Charter mandates a writing of a strategic Plan. But this should not merely put to paper what already exists within the numerous documents, plans and studies presently sitting on various shelves. The stated goals found in this strategic plan are repeated over and over in a variety of works (Comprehensive Plan, Master Water and Sewer Plan, Urban Growth Boundary Plan, Cecil County Land Preservation Plan, Roadway Improvements Strategic Plan, Sage Growth Study‚Ä¶and many more).
This most recent document consists of worthy and grand goals and objectives but they are broad and lack specific means by which any of them are to be met. That is, I see terms such as ‚Äúwe commit to advancing work through productive and supportive teams‚ÄĚ (aren‚Äôt these already in place?) and ‚ÄúWe strive to‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ (what does this really mean? Don‚Äôt we already support the efforts presently in place and ongoing?) The wording is ornate and seems structured to impress, but where is the meat behind the ‚Äúsupport‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúadvance‚ÄĚ ‚Äúexpand‚ÄĚ ‚Äúencourage‚ÄĚ ‚Äúpromote‚ÄĚ ‚Äúcommit to‚ÄĚ? There should be a page devoted to definition of these repeating terms.
Now if you will allow me, I‚Äôll address my comments to specifics:
The objectives are laudable, but these are being carried out through the purview of the Board of Education and the various departments within our schools, college, and library. It should be enough to state that we will support the work and expertise of those responsible for this ongoing work. To delve into the many facets (career readiness/ free or low cost education/ lifelong learning/ programs of outreach to facilitate ‚Äúability and enthusiasm to pursue self-directed as well as formal educational and career development opportunities‚Ä¶
Is it necessary to spell out these goals of funding allocation, maintenance and use of public resources when this has been ongoing? Is it necessary to advocate for seeking State and Federal funding when needed or to ‚Äúfund deferred project within acceptable limits‚ÄĚ‚Ä¶when this is our present course? The ongoing role and objective within our financial department is to balance assets and liabilities else we could not function. Isn‚Äôt it understood that the county is constantly exercising fiscal responsibility? Why is it necessary to state the obvious as a ‚Äústrategic plan‚ÄĚ?
Yet again, the county works jointly with the Department of Public Works in its role in overseeing roads and bridges, and water/wastewater and the landfill. DPW has an impressive organization of projects and timelines for work to be done. DPW not only has objectives and a vision, but has a definite procedure plan in place that will ensure that the objectives are met. This is a true strategic plan. I would hope that after review, the county will give support to the expertise behind the work and plans, but this support should not be labeled as a ‚Äústrategic plan,‚ÄĚ but rather as an ongoing approval process within the confines of the budget.
As for internet access, broadband, MARC service, expanding bus route, energy distribution systems business needs, these will be worked on through various groups. (Federal, State, regional groups). We will certainly keep abreast and support where we can; again‚Ä¶.this falls under the heading of ‚Äúgoals and objectives,‚ÄĚ not ‚ÄúStrategic Plan.‚ÄĚ
Safe, Healthy, and Active Communities
My same comments apply here. There are many documents and plans in place which guide the ongoing work of the many committees, Boards, associations, commissions, volunteer groups. They work under the umbrella of these established goals and objectives relative to each area of interest‚Ä¶protection of natural resources, agriculture, development planning, mineral extraction, tourism, forestry, parks, law enforcement, fire protection, EMS, senior services, ‚Ä¶and the list goes on‚Ä¶and on. To try to cover it all as a ‚Äėstrategic plan‚Äô is much too broad.
After all that, my observation is that although this document restates goals found in various existing documents, it may be useful as an overview of vision, mission, objectives and goals for the county. But, as such, it is inaccurate to label it ‚ÄúStrategic Plan.‚ÄĚ In my opinion, it is not.
Editor’s Note: Rebecca Demmler is a former Cecil County Commissioner.
FROM: Kathie Billmire and Ashley Christy
On behalf of the BMHS Zombie Chase Committee, (a.k.a. Bohemia Manor High School Prom & After-Prom), we would like to thank the community of Cecil & Kent County for the donations, support for and participation in our 1st Zombie Chase event on October 26th. While we could not hold our event at the Bohemia Manor High School because of the new water system being installed, the US Army Corps of Engineers allowed us to use the Chesapeake City Levees, a perfect place to hold such an event!
This event was the culmination of many months of planning and tireless efforts of our committee and family members in making this a success.
The Bohemia Manor High School Prom and After-Prom Committee joined forces this year to raise funds for lowering the price of the prom ticket as well as defraying the cost of the After-Prom event. Our goal is to have every Junior & Senior attending Bohemia Manor High School to be able to attend the 2014 Prom.
While most students want to keep the party going, the After-Prom Committee offers a safe and sober environment for them. We provide teens an alcohol and drug free way to make prom night last into the wee hours of the morning.
Many thanks to our special 36 BMHS Good Samaritans (volunteers), our 117 participants who tried dodging our Zombies, and our many spectators who came out to see what exactly is a Zombie Chase. Special thanks to our sponsors: US Army Corp of Engineers, APEC (apecusa.com), BMHS Boosters, Dividing Farm ‚Äď Billy Jeanes, Jr. & Turner Farms ‚Äď Jeff Turner for delivering & setting up the hay bales obstacles, Kevin Quinlan Photography (Kevin Quinlan took fantastic photos of our participants and Zombies), Chesapeake City Fire Dept. ‚Äď EMS Team & Don Briscoe, Chesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina ‚Äď gift certificates, Ship Watch Inn ‚Äď gift certificate, & Frank Vari for all his assistance!
Our Mission: To provide our teens a safe, drug and alcohol free alternative to After-Prom partying.
FROM: D‚ÄôEtte W. Devine, Ed.D.
Cecil County Public Schools
Needed, Affordable, and Adaptable ‚Äď Basell is the Right Answer
On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, Cecil County Public Schools made a presentation to the County Council during a public hearing regarding the acquisition of 912 Appleton Road, commonly known as the Basell property. For the better part of two years it has been our goal to purchase this property so that it may be converted into an expanded school of technology for which the county has a great need. There has been a lot of discussion and, frankly, some misinformation surrounding this issue. Below are important facts that I would like to share with our community:
– The current school of technology at Bay View was built in 1968. It is inadequate and in need of repair. It cannot be feasibly renovated.
–A minimum of 150 students are turned down each year because programs are full and there is nowhere to expand. No new programs can be added for the same reason.
–The Board of Education and CCPS leadership have been working to identify a solution to expand career and technology education since 2005.
–A comprehensive career and technology high school at a cost of $60 million dollars was considered but high school capacity affected the state‚Äôs willingness to pay and rendered it impossible. It is important to understand that the state will not fund a new comprehensive high school when there is capacity in the other five high schools. They will help to fund a career and technology school, however.
–A career and technology standalone school at a cost of $40 million was also studied but considered too costly.
–The Basell property, with 141,000 square feet of space on 90 acres at a total cost of $18.8 million including purchase and renovation (of which the county would pay approximately $12.8 million), can be easily converted into a school and remains the best of all options.
–While it is true that we could have had the property at a lower cost if the former Board of Commissioners had the wisdom to purchase it, it is still the most affordable solution by far.
–In the short run, current educational programs will be able to accommodate all requests and new programs that the county needs can be added. We can provide for 580 seats instead of the current 200.
–In the long run, the acreage will permit the county to expand into the 6th high school when our population dictates.
–The property has other advantages including its science labs for STEM purposes, space for adult education operated by Cecil College, and potential opportunities for Parks and Recreation and the Department of Emergency Services.
After over eight years we have found the solution to the much needed and long awaited expansion of career and technology education in Cecil County. There are exciting changes both to our southwest at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and nearby in Delaware at the STAR Campus Research Park. Our students must be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities, which in turn will have a positive impact on our local economy.
It is past the time for delay, distortion, and dishonesty regarding the unique possibilities provided by this property. I urge members of County Council to vote on September 17 to exercise the option agreement negotiated by the school system and Obrecht properties to purchase the Basell property. Needed, affordable, and adaptable ‚Äď Basell is the answer and now is the time.
FROM: Rebecca Demmler
(Copy of a letter sent to Cecil County Councilor Diana Broomell)
You have recently posted the financial disclosure statements of fellow council-members, Bowlsbey, Hodge, and McCarthy on your blog ‚ÄúKeeping it Real.‚ÄĚ I must shake my head in disbelief at this latest assault against those whose character and solid reputation you continue to question. Since you have a history of suspicion, innuendo and accusation against too many of your colleagues, I am led to conclude that this is the bottom-line motivation for this latest ‚Äėdisclosure.‚Äô
I have no doubt that you would explain your desire for complete disclosure as the incentive for this latest invasive battering. I, then, must wonder why your financial statements and those for Councilman Dunn are not included.
FROM: Diana Broomell
Thank you for posting my comment on your website in response to your article. Please print in its entirety.
Mr. Hodge stated his concern that I knew details of the Ethics Commission deliberations. He already is aware of my efforts on increasing disclosure requirements in Cecil County Government I have promoted and it‚Äôs been passed that Directors of County departments have to provide full disclosures and attorneys and ethics commission members are also responsible for filing the short form.
I agreed with the Ethics Commission when they raised a concern that under Charter, they would operate at the discretion of the County Executive. Their fear was that the County Executive could remove members at her whim and that actually came to pass recently when County Executive Moore removed Walter Rozanski from the Ethics Commission for comments he made regarding County Council Member, Robert Hodge.
Walt Rozanski called Mr. Hodge unethical. I agree that comments like that could be interpreted that Mr. Rozanski may not be able to remain impartial when it comes to deliberating on ethics complaints against Mr. Hodge. However, did Mr. Rozanski give up his first amendment right when he became an ethics commission member? Was he ever asked why he believed Mr. Hodge was unethical? Ms. Moore didn‚Äôt but I did. Mr. Rozanski said his comment was generally based on Mr. Hodge‚Äôs statements regarding illegal bulk liquor sales from Cecil County to New York. Mr. Hodge thought there was nothing wrong with it because the liquor stores weren‚Äôt breaking any Cecil County liquor laws. However, Mr. Rozanski pointed out that the Cecil County liquor stores were breaking federal laws: money laundering and wiretap laws punishable up to 20-30 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines. And it should be pointed out that Ms. Moore never spoke out or raised objections to previous Ethics Commission Chairman Burns‚Äô comments when he publicly shared his personal opinions attacking certain elected officials.
What is even more troublesome is that Ms. Moore removed Rozanski at a key opportune time: right before a complaint was being answered. I‚Äôm not permitted to speak on this complaint but know about it because I filed it. I feel it is hypocritical for her to remove Mr. Rozanski and then pledge to put in a resolution to provide the Ethics Commission the autonomy from her influence that was earlier requested. And why wasn‚Äôt Walter given at least a warning or recourse for appeal instead of an all out dismissal.
Another issue he and other ethics commission members have been concerned about are the registering of lobbyists. Why is it that in Cecil County we have never had a registered lobbyist? And now it seems that the efforts by the Ethics Commission to send letters out to possible lobbyists are being thwarted. Donna Nichols our Human Resource Manager refused to send the letters out from a list that the Ethics Commission prepared. The County Attorney, Jason Allison, advises the Ethics Commission. When I asked how he would propose going about getting lobbyists to register, he turned the question around and asked if I was accusing businesses of not properly registering?! As a side note, thanks to Walt Rozanskie a list of all companies that do business with the county each month and paid $500 or more is now posted on the Cecil County Ethics Commission website. This would be a good place to start in sending our lobbyist registration forms. If they fit the criteria listed, they are responsible for registering.
So, once again, the deliberations of Ethics Complaints are confidential but the deliberations by the Ethics Commission on ethics issues are not and anyone can attend their meetings on the 3rd Monday of the month. Why wouldn‚Äôt I ask the Ethics Commission about their deliberations on the issues? I have always been concerned about the integrity of the ethics process. We all should be.
FROM: Rebecca Demmler
Dear Cecil County Council:
Councilwoman Broomell, by virtue of her position, certainly has the right to question what she thinks she must. But, when her questions and comments belie good common sense; when those questions are in opposition to the expertise of engineers and solid research by DPW; when her suggestions will result in waste of dollars already spent, along with unnecessary need for future spending; then the remaining four council members should exercise their right to put a swift end to her dubious questioning.
I read the excellent information paper that was prepared by DPW Director, Scott Flanigan. His overview of the upgrade of the NERAWWTP [Seneca Point sewage treatment plant] was impressive and thorough. He has given the Council verbal information, and now surely all council members have read this written outline. The reasons for continuing toward the use of Membrane Bioreactor process are clearly defined in Mr. Flanigan‚Äôs information paper.
At least four years of effort has been spent in laying the groundwork for this project. Substantial funds have already spent in design. The consequences of switching to an alternative filter system will be far reaching in future costs in time and money. Since you are aware of these factors, I am left with a puzzling thought. Could it be that someone who does possess appropriate engineering credentials has questioned the use of the MBR? Are there other forces working against the use of MBR? If so, the public should be made aware of this.
If not, then I am wondering why Ms. Broomell who lacks expertise in wastewater treatment and who lacks an engineering background is granted this latest platform. This project has been in the CIP for a number of years. Three million dollars has been spent in design. Changing will require additional future spending and there will be a delay of completion which might exceed the MDE deadline. Ms. Broomell herself, in past votes, approved the project.
Isn‚Äôt there (shouldn‚Äôt there) be a point at which decisions made cannot be undone? Isn‚Äôt it the duty of the Council to put an end to this puzzling query by voting to move forward with decisions that have already been made?
[Mrs. Demmler is a former Cecil County Commissioner. This is a copy of a letter she has sent to all members of the County Council.]
FROM: Neal Reynolds
I would like to address the situation with the bridge on New Bridge Rd. in Rising Sun. We spent over $400,000 to paint the bridge and do repairs. The weight limit was 10,000 pounds. It has since been lowered to 6000 pounds.
We would like to know why. Is the bridge unsafe? If so then why did the county pay such an exorbitant amount to have it painted instead of replacing it?
We live on a back road and it not only uses more gas to go the long way but also causes a lot of problems for the people that drive regular trucks and not cars. When the officer at the bridge was asked the question about who made the decision he either could not answer or wouldn‚Äôt answer.
What is going on? We want to know. If the bridge is unsafe then close it and make repairs, do it the right way.
I sometimes think the county government has gone wild.
FROM: Al Reasin
The concern expressed by County Councilor Broomell about the $29 million cost of the Seneca Point sewage treatment plant upgrades angers me a bit. Not specifically because of her argument against Director Flanigan‚Äôs position, but because of her hypocrisy.
The Artesian contract for the water and sewage takeover, less Seneca Point, required public support by the county commissioners. Commissioner (at the time) Broomell violated the contract by testifying against it at a Public Service Commission hearing. And as well she contacted a lawyer, without the Board of Commissioner‚Äôs authorization, to review the contract. The cost to the tax payers was in excess of $1200. Artesian later withdrew from the sewage system purchase. Because of that withdrawal, the county now has an estimated $62 million worth of costs, including continued bond debt, to contend with in the future in West Cecil. That burden would have been born by Artesian and in part by rate payers. Will the county tax payers and rate payers now foot the bill or just the rate payers for the $62 million.
While I don‚Äôt know any of the enter workings of the negotiations with Artesian, it would seem that Artesian was purchasing a package. It took the sewage system, excluding the Seneca Point facility, possibly to get the water system it wanted. Commissioner Broomell‚Äôs actions gave Artesian an opportunity to rid itself of a burden it might not have wanted. If that is the case, Commissioner Broomell was too smart by half.
So now County Councilor Broomell says she is thinking of the costs to the county and rate payers with the Seneca Point improvements mandated by the state, but when she had executive powers and a majority of commissioners on her side to evaluate the Artesian contract, what was she thinking.
Director Flanigan suggested during his presentation that if Seneca Point‚Äôs improvements are not sufficient in the future, a closed for business sign may have to be hung out at the entries to Cecil County. That might just suit County Councilor Broomell. Such a situation would certainly fit into County Councilor Broomell‚Äôs history of belonging to and advocating for the positions of organizations that some would say have a no growth ideology.
FROM: Kennard Wiggins
Cecil County was mandated by the state to produce a land use Tier Map in conformance with their four basic land use parameters according to SB 236. This state initiative was apparently designed to eventually displace the locally developed County Comprehensive Plan with a more centralized State Plan. The County Commissioners at that time could not reach agreement on a map. The Planning Commission proposed a different map that would mirror the Comprehensive Plan, but it was ignored and shelved. No map was forthcoming from the newly elected County Council, and so a map was submitted administratively by the County Executive to avoid having the state draw our map for us, as the deadline for submission neared.
The goal of the law (SB 236) was to limit impacts of large subdivisions on septic systems on our lands and waters in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It was supposed to be a straightforward application of existing zoning, comprehensive plans and sewer service. The Tier Map for Cecil County does not meet this criteria according to Maryland Department of the Environment. A Public Hearing will be held on February 19 to discuss their comments. Our neighboring Harford County has met this standard, with a Tier map that reflects its Comprehensive Plan. Our Cecil map appears to be the victim of the political discord that has been inflicted on our County during recent years.
I feel strongly that insofar as the tier map reflects the Comprehensive Plan I accept it. I equally agree that insofar as the map disagrees with our Comprehensive Plan, I reject it. You can read the County Comprehensive Plan at: http://www.ccgov.org/uploads/PlanningAndZoning/General/2010ComprehensivePlan.pdf
The County Comprehensive Plan provides the foundation document for our local land use policies. It is the basis for our County codes and ordinances for planning and zoning.
I spent over two years in a fairly contentious and difficult democratic process to devise a Comprehensive Plan for Cecil County. A Citizens Committee of 41 people from all over the County was appointed by our elected commissioners to write the comprehensive plan. It took two and a half years and over 100 meetings to finalize the product. That plan was then vetted by the Planning Commission and finally approved by the County Commissioners. The resulting plan is a compromise, and it is probably not perfect, but in my opinion, it does represent the consensus of the County as a planning document expressing what we collectively want our County to be. It is a product of grass roots democracy involving many dozens of citizens at several layers. It should not be lightly dismissed by those who believe in participatory democracy.
Now SB236 has been passed and signed into law. I believe we are a nation of laws. The Maryland Department of Planning has commented on our maps, and for purposes of this discussion, where their direction is in harmony with our local Comprehensive Plan, then I agree with that direction.
The land use plan lists twelve specific goals and objectives, and I think you can safely say that the broad consensus, almost unanimously agreed, was that we would create distinct growth areas where we wanted to channel growth and attempt to preserve areas where growth would be undesirable. The Priority Funding Areas and Enterprise Zones are roughly congruent with the ‚Äúgrowth corridor‚ÄĚ bounded by 1-95 and Route 40 and up Elkton/Newark road.
It makes sense that we‚Äôd want to focus our investment and resources in the growth area for maximum return on our public monies. We still do not have the adequate infrastructure we need in the growth corridor to attract the economic growth, and jobs, our citizens need.
It makes equal sense to me that if we disburse our resources outside the designated growth area it would be wasteful and inefficient. I, for one, would rather see utilities and services that result in economic growth, rather than dilute our scarce tax dollars to widen a bridge or build a new school out in the countryside as a result of unwanted development. Our priority should be building out the growth area we have, not expanding it further, dissipating our limited resources. The lack of jobs and opportunity are always among our biggest challenges, especially in this weak economy.
For me, the preservation piece of this law is also about preserving a viable agricultural industry that is a major economic contributor to Cecil County. The county is approximately 71% rural. I agree with the Comprehensive Plan that rural character defines so much of our county and that‚Äôs a big reason people like it here. The Plan states, ‚ÄúThe County intends for rural areas to remain rural and for the agricultural and other natural resources within them to remain viable and economically productive.‚ÄĚ I‚Äôm interested in sustaining farming and encouraging farmers as a matter of economic vitality. Converting productive cropland to “house farms” destroys an economic resource and replaces it with a demand for increased public services and expensive infrastructure exactly contrary to where the comp plan says we want our County to grow.
Our Comprehensive Plan allows for exceptions, including the villages, the towns, and their projected growth areas. We have grandfathered existing and already planned development, and the result is a map of many small exceptions. Our most recent comp plan also expanded, modestly, our growth area especially south of Elkton and along the east side of Turkey Neck and above Perryville. I encourage all citizens to read and review the County Comprehensive Plan. I believe it to be a product which represents the broad consensus of the citizens of the County. No one will agree with every word, but most can agree with the overall blueprint of our County‚Äôs future as presented in the Comprehensive Plan. This document should be the guide for our Tier Map.
 Section 3.1, Goals and Objectives, page 3-1
 Section 2.6 ‚ÄúCecil County‚Äôs Future, page 2-6
 Section 3.5.2 ‚ÄúRural Area‚ÄĚ page 3-16
FROM: Michael W. Dawson
Failed Leadership at the Cecil GOP Central Committee
We owe a debt of gratitude to County Executive Tari Moore‚Ä¶
The essence of my position is that the Cecil County Republican Central Committee (CCRCC), by its own rules, lacks any provision or authority to carry out the role it has been allotted in aiding the county to fill a vacancy in office‚ÄĒand, therefore, could not have duly executed any advisement on filling the County Council vacancy. I contend that if County Executive Moore had not so courageously unaffiliated [from the Republican party], the ensuing vacancy appointment process as spelled out in the Charter would have created a veritable ‚Äėconstitutional crisis‚Äô‚Ä¶[because] the leadership of the central committee failed to ‚Äúput its house in order.‚ÄĚ‚Ä¶
The former commissioner-style form of government basically functioned as a pass-through between the General Assembly and the citizens of Cecil. The Constitution and laws of Maryland spell out the procedures for filling vacancies in public office, and grants authority to do so accordingly. On the other hand, the charter-form of government erects a wall of autonomy between the State and Cecil County to govern locally under the authority of the Charter itself‚Ä¶. The Charter begins by asserting, ‚ÄúThe powers provided in ‚Ä¶ this Charter shall be exercised only by the County Executive, the County Council and other officers, employees and agents of Cecil County…‚ÄĚ
Therefore, in the vacancy provisions of the Charter, the County Council is only given the authority to receive a ‚Äúlist of three persons‚ÄĚ from, in this case, the CCRCC. Further, the nature of the Charter lacks any compelling or granting authority extended beyond the reach of county government or its agents. This warning of limited authority has been echoed by Victor Tervala, an attorney and noted expert on Code Home Rule in Maryland.
Since the provision and authority to compile the “list of three persons” is not granted through the Charter, it must, therefore derive from the governing authority of the CCRCC‚Äôs own constitution and bylaws. But, when one looks to those governing documents, there is no provision to fill a vacancy in office.
Much like the county‚Äôs Charter Transition Team combed through the Cecil County Code to correct and make the necessary adjustments to function as a charter county, so too was there a necessity to act by the CCRCC to amend and adjust their own ‚Äúcharter‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúcode‚ÄĚ to operate on the Charter-side of that wall. However, the CCRCC failed to act ‚Äď they failed to appropriately prepare to fulfill the Charter‚Äôs ‚Äėgift of advisement‚Äô it was given to have a voice in filling a vacancy in charter government.
I contend that not only did the CCRCC fail to act appropriately, but their inaction is tantamount to nonfeasance. The deficiencies of the central committee‚Äôs constitution and bylaws were brought to the attention of the governing body, most notably Secretary Ted Patterson and Chairman Chris Zeauskas. I know this because I provided the warning some 18 months ago, complete with a detailed draft to bring the CCRCC in line with the Charter provision of vacancy advisement.
Fast forward to today. Not only did the CCRCC fail to make the needed changes, they did so intentionally disregarding warnings to the contrary. The responsibility for these failures lies squarely at the feet of the officers of the CCRCC ‚Äď namely Zeauskas and Patterson, as well as Vice Chairman Michael A. Dawson and Treasurer Carrie L. Taylor. To this end, the Committee, under the substandard leadership of these four, has failed all of Cecil County‚Äôs Republicans‚Ä¶
Republican voters will again go to the polls on June 24, 2014 in the primary election to nominate their candidates for the general election. They will also be electing nine Republicans to the Central Committee to serve through 2018. These leaders will come from amongst the ranks of the party membership. Be careful and choose wisely ‚Äď let‚Äôs do this right in 2014!
(The author currently serves as Vice President of the Republican Club of Cecil County, and previously was a candidate in the 2010 General Election for the MD House of Delegates (34B).
FROM: Mario Gangemi
Return to Civility
Passions certainly ran high during the lead-up to the 2012 election. There were stories throughout the country regarding uncivil acts between representatives of ‚Äúrival‚ÄĚ parties. Shouting matches and derogatory messages were aplenty. There were even unkind acts here in Cecil County. However, I do not wish to dwell on that. I want to look to a shared future in Cecil County.
It is time to forget individual party affiliations and recognize that we are all Cecil Countians. Let‚Äôs focus on those matters we can affect, those of here at home in Cecil County. There are many issues that directly impact us right here. If we forgive the recent unkind acts done in a fit of political passion, if we can ignore our party affiliations, if we recognize our common goal of a better Cecil County and if we ALL work together Cecil County will be successful.
At the end of the day we may be registered as Democrats or Republicans or some other party (or Unaffiliated), but we are Cecil Countians. Together, we can accomplish much.
FROM: Rebecca J. Demmler
[Editor's Note: Mrs. Demmler, a former Cecil County Commissioner, sent this letter to James Mullin, president of the current Board of Commissioners, and provided Cecil Times with a copy.]
As President of the Commissioners, I direct this to you with copy to the other commissioners and others concerned with the replacement of the North East, Rolling Mill Lane Bridge.
When this issue came before the commissioners during my tenure, it was determined that available funds should be directed toward several projects of more urgent priority. This decision, as you will recall, was based on discussions arising from sound data and numbers.
As I understand, replacing this bridge is now an active possibility through the urging of some few within the town of North East along with an alliance with Commissioner Broomell. Some funding is to be contributed by the Town and additional County money is available. This financial collaboration with the Town is ill-advised since it allows County projects to be improperly influenced by Town priority. I would think that any additional County money should logically be applied to projects already determined as holding precedence by Cecil County.
Since a bridge in this location was unfortunately destroyed some years ago, we are told that it should now be replaced. At one time in the history of North East I would imagine that this might have been a well-traveled route from one side of town to the other. But, let‚Äôs realistically consider the geography of the present North East.
Only those using Mechanics Valley Road would use this bridge to reach the western side. Without it, it is short distance around the block. All other traffic (north or south on 272, or east or west along route 7) would very logically use the 272 entrance to visit any business or residences that happen to be located directly to the west of the river.
It is suggested that a replacement bridge is vital for both business and access by emergency vehicles. Again, please consider that only those using Mechanic’s Valley Road would possibly have reason to access this bridge. Without it, there is a very short drive to the Route 272 entrance leading to the river‚Äôs west side. Potential emergency response, or those frequenting business would have little use for access via Mechanic‚Äôs Valley Road.
In my opinion replacement of Rolling Mill Bridge is a very unwise use of funds. I would hate to think that decisions to proceed with this project are based on politics or favors affecting a very few. County funds, especially in these troublesome economic times, should be devoted to carefully prioritized projects only.
I ask and urge you to vote against any further time or money being spent toward this unwarranted replacement of the North East Rolling Mill Lane Bridge.
From: Brian Shivery
There is so much wrong with the fiscal direction of our country today that for those of us who take the time to understand the money side of the federal government‚Äôs business– namely out of control annual budget deficits, skyrocketing national debt and confusing tax policy– it‚Äôs no wonder most people simply check out. Hey, it‚Äôs a complicated mess.
But make no mistake, like the person who has overdrawn their checking account and cannot pay any more bills, so, too, the day of reckoning is coming to each American citizen– the ultimate payer for this excess spending.
When the Feds finally adjust their belts, ‚Äúcuts‚ÄĚ will roll downhill to the states. In Maryland, as we know, they are very adept at balancing holes in their budget by shifting obligations, liabilities and revenue shortfalls to the counties.
No one I talk to seems to realize that the next decade in Cecil County politics will likely be spent dealing with increasing fiscal problems. Slowing tax revenues, reductions in revenues from the state, increased operating costs, higher pension liabilities and the desire to ‚Äúbuild the growth corridor infrastructure‚ÄĚ with NO really clear picture on how to pay for all of this.
More than ever, we need a knowledgeable fiscal conservative in charge of county government. I mean someone who really understands finance, and can effectively work on the fiscal issues. The most ‚Äúqualified‚ÄĚ candidate for Cecil County executive to handle the coming Cecil County fiscal crisis is Pam Howard.
FROM: Pamela Howard
‚ÄúPenny wise, pound foolish.‚ÄĚ This adage describes some of our county commissioners perfectly. We have the opportunity to repurpose a long-vacant, but well maintained, building to a modern, desperately needed technical high school‚ÄĒbut we can‚Äôt even explore the opportunity because some commissioners are unwilling to spend what amounts to a few dollars in comparison to the rest of the county‚Äôs budget.
I have been excited about this opportunity since hearing of it late last spring. As an accountant, I always want to know all the facts before jumping into a project and so I recommended a study to independently assess the viability of the proposal.
Now the Board of Education has stepped up and agreed to fund an independent engineering study. So now the Board of County Commissioners should step up and secure the property rights so we can proceed.
I‚Äôve heard the arguments about possible cost overruns. But consider this: The estimated cost to buy the land and remodel the building is $16 million. Even if the costs were double the estimate, we could sell about a third of the 90+ acres included in the parcel and recoup some of our investment. In contrast, estimates to build a new building from scratch are up to four times the cost of this project.
It‚Äôs true that if this site were used as a manufacturing facility it could provide a lot of jobs and much-needed tax revenues. But you have to wonder: if the site is so valuable for research or manufacturing, why hasn‚Äôt it been snapped up? Could it be that we don‚Äôt have the skilled workforce to fill such jobs?
Most experts agree that the job market favors people with technical skills and will do so for the foreseeable future. Even now, many of our students who were fortunate enough to be able to attend college are unable to find jobs.
We have an untapped resource in students who want technical training. Let‚Äôs find a way to give them the skills needed to find good, paying jobs so they can become productive members of our society. Commissioners, please make this small investment in our county‚Äôs future. Please secure purchasing rights to the property and allow the Board of Education to proceed with an engineering study. It will help all of us in the long run.
(Pam Howard is the Democratic candidate for Cecil County Executive.)
FROM: Kennard Wiggins
Our County Commissioner will soon approve some version of a Tier Map required by Senate Bill 236. I feel strongly that insofar as the tier map reflects the Comprehensive Plan I accept it. I equally agree that insofar as the map disagrees with our comp plan, I reject it. You can read the County Comprehensive Plan at: http://www.ccgov.org/uploads/PlanningAndZoning/General/2010ComprehensivePlan.pdf
The County’s Comprehensive Plan provides the foundation document for the PlanningCommission. It is the basis for our County codes and ordinances for planning and zoning. It is the ‚Äúconstitution,‚ÄĚ if you will, to which I have a duty and a responsibility as a Planning Commission member.
I spent over two years in a fairly contentious and difficult democratic process to devise a Comprehensive Plan for Cecil County. A Citizens Committee of 41 people from all over the County was appointed by our elected commissioners to write the comprehensive plan. It took two and a half years and over 100 meetings to finalize the product. That Plan was then vetted by the Planning Commission and finally approved by the County Commissioners. The resulting plan is a compromise, and it is probably not perfect, but in my opinion it does represent the consensus of the County as a planning document expressing what we collectively want our County to be. It is a product of grass roots democracy involving many dozens of citizens at several layers.
Many are very upset at the perception that the State is usurping this local effort at planning, and they are justified. It is unfortunate that the recent ‚Äútractor parade‚ÄĚ was not held in Annapolis. But the SB236 has been passed and signed into law, and I believe we are a nation of laws. The Maryland Department of Planning has commented on our maps, and for purposes of this discussion, where their direction is in harmony with our Comprehensive Plan, then I agree with that direction.
The land useplanlists twelve specific goals and objectives, and I think you can safely say that the broad consensus, almost unanimously agreed, was that we would create distinct growth areas where we wanted to channel growth and attempt to preserve areas where growth would be undesirable. The Priority Funding Areas and Enterprise Zones are roughly congruent with the ‚Äúgrowth corridor‚ÄĚ bounded by 1-95 and Route 40 and up Elkton/Newark road.
The future land use Map on p.3-8 delineates the resource preservation district and the rural conservation district in the balance of the county across the northern and southern tier and along Turkey Neck. Beyond these broad brush delineations there are lots of little bits and pieces representing villages, manufacturing,and other mixed use areas, mostly in or along the growth area.
It makes sense that we‚Äôd want to focus our investment and resources in the growth area for maximum return on our public monies. As the Planning Commission President repeatedly makes the point, we still do not have the adequate infrastructure we need in the growth corridor to attract the economic growth, and jobs our citizens need.
It makes equal sense to me that if we disburse our resources outside the designated growth area it would be wasteful and inefficient. I, for one, would rather see utilities and services that result in economic growth, rather than dilute our tax dollars to widen a bridge or build a new school out in the countryside as a result of unwanted development. Our priority should be building out the growth area we have, not expanding it further, dissipating our resources. The lack of jobs and opportunity are always among our biggest challenges, especially in this weak economy.
The Comprehensive Plan includes a map on page 7-11 of the Priority Preservation area roughly congruent with the resource preservation district and the rural conservation districts. Preceding the map is a discussion of the intent of the PPA. The map was ‚Äúproposed‚ÄĚ after discussion by the Comprehensive Plan Committee. In my view, it represents a consensus, but still subject to future refinement. It has not yet been finalized, but I think it nevertheless fairly represents the ‚Äúbroad brush outline‚ÄĚ which the committee proposed.
For me, the preservation piece of this initiative is about preserving a viable agricultural industry that is a major economic contributor to Cecil County. The point has been made that the Tiered Plan protects 54% of the County land. This is no surprise given that the county is approximately 71% rural. I agree with the Comprehensive Plan that rural character defines so much of our county and that‚Äôs a big reason people like it here. The plan states, ‚ÄúThe County intends for rural areas to remain rural and for the agricultural and other natural resources within them to remain viableand economically productive.‚ÄĚ I‚Äôm interested in sustaining farming and encouraging farmers as a matter of economic vitality. Converting productive cropland to “house farms” destroys an economic resource and replaces it with a demand for increased public services and expensive infrastructure, exactly contrary to where the comp plan says we want our County to grow.
I am sympathetic to those who desire to retire from their farms, but if the farms are to be developed (particularly in areas not designated for future growth) then those farmers are no longer in the agricultural business. They are in the real estate business, and there are no guarantees for a profit in that line as we have all seen. I bought a home with a few acres, and when I sell it, it will be a home with a few acres. My property rights have not been denied because I was not permitted to make it into a gas station. We all must eat, and we all have an interest in maintaining agriculture.
Our plan allowed for exceptions, including the villages, the towns, and their projected growth areas. We have grandfathered existing and already planned development, and the result is a map of many small exceptions. Our most recent comp plan also expanded modestly, our growth area especially south of Elkton and along the east side of Turkey Neck and above Perryville. I encourage all citizens to read and review the County Comprehensive Plan. I believe it to be a product which represents the broad consensus of the citizens of the County. No one will agree with every word, but most can agree with the overall blueprint of our County‚Äôs future as presented in the Comp Plan.
 Section3.1, Goals and Objectives, page 3-1;  Section2.6 ‚ÄúCecil County‚Äôs Future, page 2-6;  Section3.5.2 ‚ÄúRural Area‚ÄĚ page 3-16
FROM: Diana Broomell
[Editor's Note: The following is the text of a statement read by Cecil County Commissioner Diana Broomell at the 7/17/12 commissioners worksession regarding the proposed votech school on the Basell property. She submitted it as a comment on CT, but due to its length and importance, we are posting it as a Letter to the Editor.]
First, I wanted to clarify that I sat in silence during the presentation [by school officials] because I was told I could attend the meeting but I could not speak during the meeting.
On Thursday, June 11 I attended the 7:30 am CCPS Meeting to promote the purchase of the Basell Building for a new School of Technology. The presentation sounded very convincing and provided many reasons to support. However, there are two sides to every story and I would like to provide some of the reasons why I am not in support.
Let‚Äôs be clear, this is not a comprehensive high school. Many agree that too much time is lost in a student‚Äôs day with the current format of reporting to two different schools in one day. A Comprehensive High School would include all of the classes. The number of students attending Cecil County Public Schools has decreased since 2006 and as a result, the State will not fund a Comprehensive Technical High School. Probably a good reason CCPS should not be expanding their school infrastructure at this time especially in this economy.
With additional buildings comes additional operational costs per year (staff, maintenance, etc.) and that funding would be put to better use on CCPS current programs. The substantial increase in operational costs for a new building will likely mean an increase in taxes and at this time the Board of County Commissioners has agreed to not raise taxes.
When the school populations increase and the State funding kicks in for the new Comprehensive High School, the current site location adjacent to Cecil College would make more sense in partnership opportunities with the College. It should be mentioned, we have already invested on engineering plans for this location. If we purchased the Basell Building, the Comprehensive High School will be scrapped and CCPS will be committed to the current format of a technical school instead of a comprehensive high school.
Why haven‚Äôt we explored other less costly options for expanding the School of Technology? Individual technical programs could be located in schools that are below capacity. I see that CCPS currently rents space on Bridge Street. Why isn‚Äôt that an option for individual technical programs?
Has CCPS fully explored opportunities with the private sector to contract out some of their programs? Treasurer Feehley had explored initial cost options for Cosmetology Programs: Private sector charges $5,500 per student and it‚Äôs $12,000 per student cost with CCPS.
The other reasons which ultimately led to my vote: (1) The Basell Property is prime real estate attractive to research and development companies, (2) We would lose the property tax revenue which is currently over $65,000 and with 90 acres at the site there is a much higher potential for the future, (3) Renovation costs which CCPS projected seem to be unrealistic. CCPS did not include the replacement of the HVAC System and initially the school said the $44 per square foot renovation cost was low because they were only renovating what they would be using (1/3 of building to start).
I agree that quality of education greatly affects economic development which CCPS used to justify taking the Basell Building offline. But once you are presented with all of the facts, I believe this proposal is not a wise investment for CCPS or economic development
From: Libby Richardson
On behalf of The Cody G. Richardson Memorial Scholarship Fund, we wanted to thank the communities of Harford and Cecil counties for the support and participation in the 1st Annual CGR Relentless Run 5K and Fun Walk held in Perryville, MD on June 2nd. This event was the culmination of many months of planning and tireless efforts of our friends and family.
In the earliest days of our grief, we knew we had to carry on the legacy of our son Cody. He was a ray of light in our lives and the youngest of our 3 children. He grew to be a compassionate, caring young man who loved to share joy and laughter. Cody was tragically killed in an automobile accident on July 13, 2011, one month after graduation from Perryville High School. He touched the lives of so many in his short 18 years and had true and lasting friendships. He was always an amazing athlete and found his passion in soccer and Track and Field. He became the 2011 Maryland State Track and Field 1A state champion in the 300m hurdles.
With family and friends, we formed the scholarship fund and planned an event to raise money for scholarships to Harford and Cecil county high schools students pursuing college and athletics. Our goals exceeded through the hard work of our committee and the generous sponsorships from many Harford and Cecil county businesses and private donations from caring citizens far and wide. We were able to provide 8 scholarships to the following high school seniors:
$1000 – Steven Ashman, Havre de Grace High School
Ediberto Escobar, Perryville High School
$500 – Emily Cornieles, Bohemia Manor High School
Catherine Hild, Perryville High School
Austin McGinley, Rising Sun High School
Jessica Pain, Perryville High School
Karl Palmer, Perryville High School
Nicholas Warren, North Harford High School
The CGR Relentless Run 5K and Fun Walk brought together over 550 participants on June 2, far exceeding our dreams. Lime green shirts (Cody‚Äôs favorite color) could be seen far and wide and the sun shone brightly over a beautiful day. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to a great community, the Perryville Police Dept, Perryville High School faculty and staff, local businesses, volunteers and committee members who have supported us in our bittersweet march forward. to continue Cody‚Äôs legacy.
These graduating seniors now represent his future. We promise next year will be even greater. Let the legacy Run on‚Ä¶.Relentless! www.cgrrelentless.com
FROM: Robert Amato
I read a disturbing article in the April 27, 2012 issue of The Record, in which Perryville Town Commissioner Michael A. Dawson stated that running for Perryville Mayor has ‚Äúalways been in the back of my mind since I was elected for Town Commissioner. Over the past year, I‚Äôve been seeing all the waste, abuse and corruption in town government. I knew the only way to fix it would [be to] be town mayor‚ÄĚ.
What I‚Äôve been seeing for the past year is Dawson constantly attacking town employees and fellow commissioners with a litany of unsubstantiated allegations of incompetence, deception, wasteful spending, and all manner of misconduct.
It is apparent by his own admission that Dawson plans to achieve higher office at the expense of the reputations of town employees and his fellow commissioners.
A review of the town‚Äôs utility rates, property tax rate, infrastructure quality, and annual audits would show Dawson that his claims are absurd. Sadly, he would rather attack the town than work to improve its already successful status.
I challenge Dawson to specify his alleged findings of ‚Äúwaste, abuse and corruption in town government ‚ÄĚ prior to the May 8th election. Absent any specific charges, I challenge Dawson to apologize to the town‚Äôs staff and his fellow commissioners for his baseless attacks.
Send a message to Dawson by re-electing Mayor Jim Eberhardt on Tuesday, May 8th.
FROM: Judge Keith A. Baynes
I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who supported me and helped with my election to retain my position of Judge of the Circuit Court. Your overwhelming support is very humbling and something I will never forget. I also want to thank everyone for believing in me and not being fooled by the false and misleading information circulated via mailer and robo calls.
As I promised, I will continue to work hard every day to be the best judge that I can and, when all facts are told, make decisions that reflect the values of Cecil County families. Thank you.
FROM: Cecil County Public Schools
Dr. D‚ÄôEtte Devine, Superintendent of Schools, will host the second Community Forum on Education on April 23, 2012. The event will be held in the Elkton High School auditorium and will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Presentation topics will include information about the Board of Education‚Äôs proposed [Fiscal] 2013 budget, legislation passed by the General Assembly that will affect local school systems and an update on the implementation of state and national reforms required by law.
‚ÄúI would like to encourage all members of the public to attend this community forum,‚ÄĚ stated Dr.
Devine. ‚ÄúCommunity support of our school system is critical, but the first step in garnering that
support is to make our stakeholders aware of the challenges that we are facing and our plan to
address them. Our first forum was well-attended and proved to be a productive two-way
conversation with those in attendance. It is my hope that we will fill the auditorium and continue
that same constructive dynamic.‚ÄĚ
FROM: Pam Howard, Democratic nominee for County Executive
I am truly honored by the response I received in the Democratic Primary and would like to thank all of the people that supported me. Thanks also to Bob McKnight and Winston Robinson for running good, clean campaigns. They are both true gentlemen.
It will be a long, tough race to the November election, but I am energized by the voters‚Äô support and with their continued help, we will be successful!
FROM: Judge Keith Baynes
As some of you may know, on Friday I was attacked as being soft on child abusers in a mailer sent by a recently formed Political Action Committee (PAC) whose chairman and treasurer are supporters of my opponent.
Of the hundreds of criminal cases I have sentenced as Judge, this PAC chose two. In these two cases both criminals were sentenced to jail. It is also important to know, which the PAC conveniently omitted, is that both of these cases were binding plea agreements negotiated by the State‚Äôs Attorney with the consent of the victims. For 26 years as a prosecutor and now as a Judge, I have always protected the rights of victims and would not have approved of the pleas in question if the victims did not consent.
If anyone has any questions about any of the cases I have handled, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be glad to provide all of the facts and answer any questions. Thank you.
FROM: Maureen McClelland
There are two things to consider when making your choice on whom to elect for Judge of the Circuit Court of Cecil County. After reading these couple of sentences, I think you will agree that Keith Baynes is the only choice.
Michael Smigiel claims that he is a protector of victim‚Äôs rights. I know differently. In 2003, Mr. Smigiel represented a child molester. (That man was convicted on twelve counts and sentenced to 35 years in prison.) Is this someone you want as a judge in your county? I would think not.
Keith Baynes was the champion for the victim in the same case; he was the prosecutor. Keith was a compassionate, caring and driven advocate for the victim in the case, working tirelessly to send this predator to jail.
I know this because the victim of the predator was my daughter.
We need a judge in Cecil County who is going to be a fair and balanced judge, not a defender of child molesters. Vote for Keith Baynes for re-election to the bench.
EDITOR‚ÄôS NOTE: Cecil Times has spoken with the mother and reviewed the court record in this case, in which the defendant, Lawrence Easley Echols (DOB: 2/22/55) was convicted on 12 counts of sex offenses, including rape, second and third degree felony sex abuse, and child abuse. The victim was age 11 at the time of the crimes, her mother said.
The court docket shows Echols was found guilty in January, 2003 and Smigiel got into the case in March, 2003, after the defendant had already been convicted, and represented him at sentencing. Since that time, according to the court docket, Smigiel has remained as a lawyer for the defendant while there have been multiple motions filed, seeking reduction or modification of the prison sentences imposed, as well as a pending appeal to the state Court of Special Appeals. The case is listed on the docket as ‚Äúreopened/active.‚ÄĚ
FROM: Rebecca Demmler (Former Cecil County Commissioner)
During election cycles we are bombarded by sleazy, dirty political advertisements on state and national campaigns. It has been to our credit that local, Cecil County candidates have traditionally stayed away from these shenanigans. Our local candidates outline their reasons for running and why they would appreciate your vote.
This year, E. J. Pipkin, a State Senator who is not involved in this local race, has spent ‚ÄúFriends of E.J. Pipkin‚ÄĚ [political campaign commitee] funds to fight against two fine candidates. What would motivate a State Senator to defame candidates of his own party in a Cecil County Primary election?
Since these advertisements and claims given against Commissioner Moore and Commissioner Hodge are blatantly false, one wonders how Senator Pipkin can get by with this outrageous behavior. Perhaps because, in the past, he has pushed limits and has not been challenged. The ongoing arrogance and false sense of the power of his office is likely driving this most recent round of offensive politics.
Donations given by citizens in support of Pipkin’s Senatorial campaign were used in false and slanderous claims against two local politicians. This is a misuse of public trust. But the egotistical and heavy-handed Pipkin continues to act in ways that stretch legal and ethical bounds.
Those of us watching have observed his devious tactics in the past. In the 2010 election, Pipkin election funds were used to smear his former friend and ally, Delegate Richard Sossi (when he was of no further use to Senator Pipkin). In a last-minute mailing, E.J. Pipkin treasury funds were used in a back-stabbing mailer against Delegate Sossi. [Sossi] had no time before the election to counter the claim and this fine politician was defeated.
Pipkin treasury funds were also used to try to sway voters against the Charter question on the 2010 ballot. Again, this was a last minute hard-hitting attempt.
So, why is Mr. Pipkin becoming so embroiled in the local affairs of Cecil County? Has he done the same in other areas of District 36 that he represents (Caroline, Kent & Queen Anne‚Äôs counties)? I suspect not. Could it be that he has his foot so firmly in the door here in Cecil County with three commissioners already in office who have shown that they can be swayed by his influence?
Just think of the POWER if he should be successful in influencing success for a County Executive AND a council member, each inexperienced and malleable to his dictates. I shudder to think of it. This situation goes beyond ‚Äúpolitics. ‚Äú It is a truly scary scenario of arrogance of power by a strong leader assuming that by some ‚Äúexecutive privilege‚ÄĚ he can do whatever he pleases.
I can only hope that the public sits up and takes notice of what has been happening.
FROM: Robert Hodge, Cecil County Commissioner
It has come to my attention that Senator E. J. Pipkin has authorized and funded numerous ‚Äúrobo-calls,‚ÄĚ as well as multiple postcard mailers that attempt to connect Commissioner Tari Moore and myself to the political actions of Governor Martin O‚ÄôMalley and his administration. Presenting this patently false and distorted impression of my record and political views to further his own political agenda for our County is disappointing, to say the least.
Ordinarily such silly and foolish efforts ought not to warrant any response. But Mr. Pipkin‚Äôs efforts to influence the outcome of the Republican Councilman and County Executive Primary races could have a very detrimental effect on the citizens of Cecil County, and for that reason should not go unchallenged. Furthermore, Pipkin‚Äôs false accusations and deliberate distortion of Tari Moore‚Äôs voting record is appalling. Commissioner Moore works tirelessly to find ways to cut spending and fights hard against unfunded mandates that come from Annapolis.
Anyone who knows me or my record in office understands that just about the only thing that our Governor and I have in common is that we both live in the same state. I have adamantly spoken out against the Governor‚Äôs taxing, spending and power-grabbing initiatives. My record on fiscal responsibility in County government speaks for itself. And anyone who‚Äôd think otherwise, or cast a vote in the upcoming election based on a fifteen second robo-call or a mailer from Senator Pipkin, will end up getting more of the same dysfunctional county government.
And that prompts this thought: our current predicament here in Cecil County — and the dysfunction, the obstruction and the lack of leadership, direction and real progress from the current County Commissioners that have been supported by Senator Pipkin– is due in no small part to Senator Pipkin‚Äôs efforts in the previous elections. Apparently he was pretty pleased with his efforts and looks for a repeat performance.
If you want a puppet government manipulated by E. J. Pipkin, then vote for the candidates that he supports. If, on the other hand, the citizens of Cecil County want an effective transition to charter government, and one that is responsive to its citizens, and efficient and truthful, then the way to get that is to cast a vote for Tari Moore for County Executive, and for Robert Hodge and Alan McCarthy for County Council. The good Senator will find that none of these candidates come with strings for him to manipulate.
FROM: Betty Ulrich
When the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC) was first organized, it was supposedly going to be a ‚Äúnon-partisan‚ÄĚ organization and many were excited about Democrats, Republicans, and Independents working together to support business-friendly candidates for local offices. … Unfortunately, it hasn‚Äôt worked out that way.
Not a single Republican or Democrat County Council candidate was even INVITED to participate in the interview process to determine their position on ‚Äúbetter government for Cecil business,‚ÄĚ except for Mr. [Robert] Hodge and Mr [Alan] McCarthy who were apparently ‚Äúpre-selected.‚ÄĚ This was verified by contacting all the County Council candidates. In fact, two of those candidates started their own businesses and continue to run those businesses. Another candidate has extensive business experience. Yet they were not even given the courtesy of being interviewed. What a charade!
Democratic candidates for County Executive were interviewed (this was also verified through their campaigns), but apparently the majority of the leadership of the PAC dismissed the suggested idea of many at that initial meeting to vet both Democrats and Republicans in their respective primary elections for County Executive and County Council seats. Although all three Democrat candidates have a history of strongly supporting the business community, not one was selected by the CBL for the Democrat primary for County Executive. If that had happened, then after the primary, the ‚Äúbest‚ÄĚ business-friendly candidate could have been chosen by the PAC between the Republican and Democrat for the general election.
What if the PAC‚Äôs selection in the Republican Primary for County Executive loses? Wouldn‚Äôt it be smart to have another candidate that the PAC has also endorsed ready to take on a non-business friendly candidate?
Without giving all candidates at least an opportunity to express their views and by not seriously considering supporting strong business candidates of BOTH parties, this organization has lost its credibility. Maybe it wasn‚Äôt so non-partisan after all. Maybe it‚Äôs just the usual PAC, i.e. a small group of people with a lot of money and their own special interests.
This is not a negative commentary on any of the individuals recommended by the CBL, especially their endorsement of both Judge Baynes and Judge Murray, who are without question the two best qualified to continue on the bench of the Cecil County Circuit Court, and who were endorsed by both the Cecil County Republican and Cecil County Democrat Clubs.
It is the CBL‚Äôs lack of a fair process and a commitment to their pledge of non-partisanship in its selection of business friendly candidates that is in question.
So nothing has changed since 2010…. We all know how well that worked out in the last campaign when Republicans won and created an all Republican County Commissioner Board. Ever since that election, just look at the continual fiasco displayed week after week by our dysfunctional group of County Commissioners.
Maybe we need a few Democrats in these local positions to bring some sense of balance and willingness to discuss issues in a civil manner, and make rational decisions that will benefit ALL Cecil County citizens.
FROM: Judge Keith Baynes
While campaigning to keep my position of Judge of the Circuit Court, I am frequently asked ‚Äúyou‚Äôre already a judge, why do you have to run?‚ÄĚ The answer is that the Maryland Constitution requires all newly appointed Circuit Court Judges to run in the next election.
Judge Michael Whelan was appointed in May, 2010 and ran for election in November, 2010. I was appointed in December, 2010 and Judge Jane Murray was appointed in October, 2011. By law we are required to run in this election and will appear on the April 3rd primary ballot for the two judicial positions.
The Circuit Court has three qualified judges: Judge Whelan, Judge Murray and myself. Each of us went through the entire Judicial Selection process and were recommended by our peers, found highly qualified by the State Bar Associations, and found to be ‚Äúlegally and most fully qualified‚ÄĚ by the Judicial Selection Committee.
As a criminal prosecutor for 25 years and now as a Judge, I have a proven track record of holding criminals responsible for their actions and protecting the rights of victims. I believe each of us strive each day to make decisions and impose sentences that reflect the values of Cecil County families. I believe we have changed the atmosphere of criminal proceedings since our respective appointments. Judge Murray and I have also been unanimously endorsed by BOTH the Republican Club and Democrat Club of Cecil County. We keep politics out of the courtroom.
The current judicial system in Cecil County is not broken. It is my desire to continue to serve the citizens of Cecil County as Judge of the Circuit Court. I respectfully ask your support for Judge Jane Murray and myself on April 3rd. Thank you.
FROM: Frank Vari
I am a candidate for the office of Mayor of Chesapeake City. I believe I have the Commitment, Ability and the Compassion to lead Chesapeake City as its Mayor. I would like your comments, suggestions and of course your support and help. I am accustomed to hard work as a Member of the Parking Committee and Planning & Zoning Commission and a Member of Town Council as its Operational Affairs Commissioner. I will continue to be committed in getting the job done and do the best I can every day which is to make every day count in promoting the betterment of Chesapeake City. God Bless Chesapeake City. Victory with Vari.
FROM: Keith Baynes, Judge, Cecil County Circuit Court
As a candidate to remain Judge of the Circuit Court, I have had a number of campaign signs stolen and billboards defaced. Obviously it takes a criminal element to steal and/or deface someone’s property. If I have offended some of the criminal element in Cecil County by holding criminals responsible for their actions and protecting the rights of victims, then I will accept these actions as a sign that I am doing the right thing. Thank you.
FROM: Christine Davis
Choosing to support Harry Hepbron for County Executive is the most important decision I have made as a mother, taxpayer, and resident of Cecil County. Cecil County is turning to a new chapter in history, Charter government. Scary to some and exciting to others, but it is a move that we can guarantee regardless of any opinion. Cecil County is ready to choose a County Executive that can represent ALL.
Harry Hepbron has been in each of our shoes: struggling to make ends meet, raising his children and grandchildren in our county school system, raising crops and working the land with his own hands, and building a small business into a learning tool of success for his children and grandchildren.
Harry Hepbron knows the importance of jobs, public safety, and your child’s education because he raises his family and business in Cecil County. As a past commissioner, Harry Hepbron has proven his leadership and ability to bring our county together for this historical change in our government. His ability to listen and bridge the people and government together is a strength that we, the people, need in our County executive.
I strongly encourage you to take the time to investigate the candidates and support the candidate that will represent our best interest going forward. I support Harry Hepbron because he has my best interest at heart and he will represent my family as if it were his own.
FROM: Kennard Wiggins
I‚Äôve had some experience in federal and local government, and I know that governing (as opposed to campaigning) is very difficult indeed. Aside from the emotional election issues, and the overblown rhetoric of hot‚Äďbutton political issues, actually making government work and serve the citizens is a challenging task. When you get past the experience, education, and other qualifiers, you are left with the question of leadership.
Our new County Executive will be the single ‚Äúbelly button‚ÄĚ responsible for making County government work. The person in this position will need team-building skills to preside over the 586 County personnel needed to execute the County government policies and actions. This person must be a thoughtful planner, anticipating our needs and with the ability to prioritize our limited resources for the most productivity. The Executive will need to marshal a consensus among the County Council to achieve the harmony needed for us to move forward. Our new executive must have superb communications skills to be our chief lobbyist in Annapolis. The position requires a diverse set of hard-headed management and budget skills and the ability to assemble a good leadership team, as well as sensitivity to the needs of all the citizens. A mature, stable, and competent senior executive with leadership skills, who can weather the storms of crisis and setback, will be what the citizens depend upon.
When you get past the fleeting election issues, you are left with the daily task of running an efficient organization with competence, and serving the needs of the community. We need a leader. Tari Moore is that person. She is an experienced executive, in whom we can place our trust for the future of our County.
FROM: Suzan Doordan, volunteer with Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC
From its inception merely three months ago, the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC Board of Directors has been extremely productive and pro-active. True to our mission to: ‚ÄúRecruit and support highly qualified candidates for elected offices to promote the economic viability of Cecil County,‚ÄĚ the CBL has accomplished both during those few months. The organization‚Äôs Board of Directors recruited Dr. Alan McCarthy for District 1 Councilman ‚Äď the first object of our mission.
Our second objective is to support highly qualified candidates for elected offices. Incumbent Robert Hodge, District 5 Councilman, has successfully met the criteria as extremely qualified and furthermore has consistently supported a pro-business agenda since his election in 2008. His voting record speaks to the final goal of our mission ‚Äúto promote the economic viability of Cecil County,‚ÄĚ and is proof that he understands the intricate nuances involved in overseeing a county with over one hundred thousand residents and a budget in excess of 160 million dollars.
The Board also agreed that the current sitting judges running for Judge of the Circuit Count, The Honorable Jane Cairns Murray and The Honorable Keith Baynes, have proven their qualifications since their appointments. They are the only candidates for Circuit Court to be vetted by their peers, including the Maryland State Bar Association, all of which deemed them as most fully qualified. We agree!
The Board of Directors endorsed those candidates early in February. However, understanding the importance of facilitating a change in local government, from the archaic commissioner system of governing to a charter form of government, the wisdom of our Board of Directors refused to buckle to pressure by announcing our candidate for County Executive prematurely. As our organization began the process of narrowing the large field of candidates running for that position, it was evident that more in depth scrutiny was required.
Clearly, the County Executive position is not a glorified commissioner position. Indeed not. It is not just the ‚Äúhead councilman‚ÄĚ position. No, not at all. The County Executive is the CEO of a business called county government.
After much deliberation, the CBL Board unanimously endorsed Tari Moore several weeks later, as the preferred Republican County Executive candidate in the April 3, 2012 primary election.
CBL is confident that Tari Moore on all levels is the person to lead this county during the upcoming transition to charter government. Her past experiences including those acquired in her current position of County Commissioner have prepared her for this position.
To those who claim that our decisions were partisan, nothing could be further from the truth. No one knew the end result until the vetting system was complete.
The CBL has shown remarkable leadership as we look forward to a winning team of candidates which will promote more jobs in our community and have a positive impact on the future of our community.
The Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government encourage all Cecil County voters to become engaged in the process and to cast their vote for our slate of candidates on April 3rd.
FROM: Cecil County Public Schools
BOUNDARY LINE ADJUSTMENT HEARING SCHEDULED
As a result of the recently completed renovation/addition project, Calvert Elementary School has the building capacity to accommodate a greater number of students. As required by Board of Education Policy JCA, ‚ÄúBoundary Line Adjustments,‚ÄĚ a Boundary Line Adjustment Committee was formed to study the possibility of revising the elementary school attendance areas surrounding Calvert.
The Committee‚Äôs recommendation is to expand the Calvert Elementary School attendance area
to alleviate growing enrollment at neighboring schools. This boundary line adjustment will
include students from the current Rising Sun, Bay View, and Leeds school attendance areas.
Students residing in the areas identified by the Committee in the revised Calvert Elementary
attendance area will begin attending Calvert at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
A public hearing to address any comments and concerns from the community affected by this
change will be held on Tuesday, March 6 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the George Washington
Carver Education Leadership Center located at 201 Booth Street, Elkton.
FROM: James Mullin, President, Cecil County Board of Commissioners
The General Assembly is currently debating a proposal from Governor O‚ÄôMalley to shift hundreds of millions in pension costs from the state to the county governments. Counties disagree that this shift will do anything to improve the sustainability of state pension funding. County governments do not run the pension system, do not negotiate teacher salaries, and did not create these costs — but the Governor‚Äôs budget sends this ticking time bomb to the county governments ‚Äď who would simply have to pay the freight without any say in the system, or its costs.
In Cecil County alone, the new cost to our county for the coming year is $4,284,095. The fiscal staff in Annapolis says that would grow immediately to $5,517,877 the next year and all the way to $6,411,921 over the next three years. That kind if burden would put massive pressure onto the county‚Äôs taxpayers and to the public services our citizens deserve and depend on.
The state should resist the temptation to balance its budget on the backs of our counties. We encourage the citizens of Cecil County to urge our Senators and Delegates to stand in opposition to these massive cost shifts. We also urge our citizens to contact the Governor‚Äôs office to express opposition.
FROM: Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC
The Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC has scheduled an upcoming public meeting for all county residents, for Friday, February 17 at the Milburn Stone Theater, on the North East Campus of Cecil College, One Seahawk Drive. Vice‚ÄďChair Mario Gangemi will present a short program and give an update on the organization‚Äôs progress. Light refreshment will be served.
For more information regarding the CBL organization you can direct your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on our website at www.cecilbusinessleaders.com
FROM: Russ Johnson
How can an unaffiliated voter (Independent) shape the outcome of the Republican primary for County Executive?
As we all know, the cast of characters is wide and deep for the new, critically important, County Executive position this election. On the Republican side alone there are 7 candidates! Do any of you thousands of Unaffiliated (Independent) voters want to make a difference and be able to vote in the primary? Here is how to do it:
Go on line to the MD State Board of Elections website ( www.elections.state.md.us ) and print a Voter Registration Application. Complete the application as per the instructions, checking off the box for Party Affiliation Change and then for Party check the box for Republican Party. This form must be mailed to, or dropped off at the Cecil County Board of Elections, 200 Chesapeake Blvd, Suite 1900, Elkton, MD 21921. The deadline for this is March 13th.
This will allow you to vote in the Republican Primary, thus shaping the outcome in a big way. The day after the primary election, you can then complete another application changing back to Unaffiliated. This is perfectly legal, so rather than sitting on the sidelines during this heated primary, be the catalyst that determines the outcome.
FROM: Ken Wiggins
I certainly appreciate the journalistic homework and careful diligence you have demonstrated in publishing the Cecil Times. I have come to rely upon your reporting and your insights with regularity, especially in light of the fading of the Cecil Whig as a reliable source of information and news.
Keep up the good work. You are definitely an asset to the community.
FROM: Cecil County Patriots
The Cecil County Patriots and Americans for Prosperity are co-sponsoring a debate/forum featuring Republican candidates for U. S. Senate on Thursday, January 26, 2012 from 7-9 p.m. at the American Legion, located at 300 Cherry St., Perryville, MD 21903. This event is free and open to the public.
Six of the Republican candidates have confirmed their participation in the forum. They are Daniel Bongino, Robert Broadus, William Capps, Jr., Richard Douglas, Rick Hoover, and David Jones.
The purpose of this forum is to inform the electorate by increasing awareness of the candidates who will be on the ballot in the primary… and their positions on vital issues facing our country.
Michael Futty, a member of Toastmasters International, will serve as the moderator for this event.
Questions can be submitted to email@example.com. For more information, please visit http://www.cecilcountypatriots.com or call Jackie Gregory (410)620-7667.
FROM: Evelyn Potter, director, Cecil County Board of Elections
Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 9:00 pm is the deadline for an individual to file as a candidate for the upcoming 2012 Primary Election. Under State law, an individual must file a Certificate of Candidacy by 9:00 pm on the Wednesday that is 83 days before the primary election. The filing location depends on the office sought. All federal and State candidates file a Certificate of Candidacy at the State Board of Elections (SBE), located at 151 West Street, Annapolis, MD. Local candidates file at the local board of elections…
Besides filing the Certificate of Candidacy, all candidates, except candidates for Delegate to the National Convention, must pay a filing fee at the appropriate board of election. State and local candidates must also provide evidence that the candidate has filed a financial disclosure statement and established a candidate committee at SBE. Failure to meet any of the requirements prior to the deadline will invalidate the Certificate of Candidacy and remove the individual from the ballot.
The 2012 Presidential Primary Election will be held on Tuesday April 3, 2012, and the Presidential General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Additional election-related dates and forms are available at www.elections.state.md.us. For more information, contact the Cecil County Board of Elections at 410-996-5310 or the State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-VOTE (8683) OR www.elections.state.md.us.
From: Christopher Diebold
[Copy of a letter sent to Commissioner Diana Broomell, responding to her recent Op-Ed in The Whig defending her actions on the Artesian wastewater contract]
Ms. Broomell, using your outline, I wish to question:
Fact 1- Although you are factually correct would you agree that it appears the result of “breaking” the deal was initiated by you? I want my representatives questioning everything, but in my opinion the contract w/ Artesian was a step in the right direction toward bringing the county into the 20th century. (not a typo, I meant last century) Any county with multiple interstate highways without basic commerce necessities near them can not claim that they are for the economic growth needed to be a viable location for business. The loss of this buyer sets us back a decade in my opinion.
Fact 2- You mention the plan as presented by director Flannigan. Your reference to that plan makes it sound like you reviewed and approved it as part of your decision to intercede in the existing sales contract. In fact this plan was neither conceived, presented or know to you until said contract was voided.
Fact 3- Demand? That is a question because I am confused. I was in attendance at an ARCA meeting earlier this year when you stated to the audience your desire to “keep Cecil County a bedroom community”. Your editorial statement was correct however in that our entire way of life is simple supply and demand and if we do not move toward being an employment center, we will continue to be what we have been for my entire life in Cecil- “the donut hole” of the NY / DC economical engine. It’s offensive to me that a community with the resources Cecil county has and being located within 2 hrs of over 30 million consumers is always ranked near the bottom in the region in standard of living.
Fact 4-7 I am only comfortable stating that the assets were valued as a whole with some responsible for increasing the contract price and some reducing the price. I do not personally know how to value those assets and have to put my trust in representatives such as yourself to oversee those appraisals. I can’t help but feel that this setback (my words) are far more expensive than any lost value of those assets. If I am incorrect in this (and I have not as of yet heard of another utility entity offering more) I will thank you for what you have done. I will tell you that one problem I had with the original deal was the omission of the infrastructure build out on Route 40 west of North East as an integral part of targeting commerce and industry. I thought Elkton West was more residentially concentrated and short sighted but again, I wasn’t invited to the negotiating table and my understanding is that the need for additional sewer treatment was a goal of high priority.
As to the “secrets,” again they appear to be either the product of negotiations, whether good or bad, or the job of a public company which is to provide a service for a profit (which does appear to offend you.)
Sewer, Gas, and water must be the focus of this and the future leaders of this county. In today’s global economy where foreign countries own US infrastructure in many States, I don’t understand why we risk the possibility of more of the same for our local and regional citizens by continuing the pessimistic attitude toward economic growth. Recent news of the lease signing for the large hardware firm is minuscule compared to the needs of the region. It’s a good start, but these are service and distribution JOBS, not careers. We need to see the smoke and steam that come from the production of a thing, a product. Nothing else will supply the way of life that middle class craves.
Ms. Broomell, lead or get out of the way!
FROM: Cecil County Patriots
The community support for the Wounded Warrior Benefit that was held as part of this year‚Äôs Cecil County Patriots Christmas Party was truly overwhelming.
We want to extend our sincere thanks to all the individual citizens and businesses in our local community who joined together, and through donations for the silent auction as well as cash donations, raised over $6,000 for a local wounded veteran.
We are grateful to those citizens who showed up at the door, but not able to stay due to lack of space, yet were content just to have an opportunity to donate.
Special thanks to Marine John Dittus, The Fisher House and to the Color Guard for their presentation. We are also grateful to the local, state, and federal officials who acknowledged and honored the service and sacrifice of Corporal Jeffrey Kessler and his family.
The outpouring of support from Cecil County for a local hero was a heartwarming acknowledgment of the sacrifice that so many have made to keep us free.
God Bless You All and Merry Christmas.
FROM: Harland Graef
I think we can agree that when the Charter Transition Committee was formed its purpose was to prepare for a smooth and timely transfer from a commissioner form of government to Charter.
Now, one of the Committee members chooses to ignore the purpose of the Committee and has opted to use the Committee as a platform to denounce Charter as too costly for Cecil County. Surprise, Surprise! ‚ÄúDo Over Diana‚ÄĚ [Broomell] is at it again.
Choosing to ignore the will of the 15,142 voters who approved the change to Charter government, ‚ÄúDo Over‚ÄĚ has engaged senior staff members to create a fictional budget for Charter based on Wicomico County‚Äôs charter which was adopted in 1964.
Immediately, two things are obvious: ‚ÄúDo Over‚ÄĚ doesn‚Äôt comprehend that each county‚Äôs charter is unique to that county; and, Commissioner ‚ÄúNo Show‚ÄĚ Dunn would not recognize a fox in the hen house if it were sitting on his lap.
Apparently, the scare tactic of choice to confuse the public is to create a ‚Äúconversion budget‚ÄĚ based on Wicomico County‚Äôs organization as outlined in their charter. A few examples from Wicomico‚Äôs charter include:
¬∑ Calls for the creation of a 7 member Council vs. Cecil County‚Äôs 5 members
¬∑ Calls for the creation of a law department
¬∑ Calls for the employment of a full time Auditor
¬∑ Calls for creation of several executive associate positions
¬∑ Calls for a Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department
In all, if the Cecil County Executive was foolish enough to make these recommendations in a proposed budget; and, the Cecil County Council was dumb enough to approve it ‚Äď yes, approximately $420,000 in additional costs would be apart of some future budget.
If one is able to comprehend the Cecil County Charter, instead of just reading it, it is quite apparent that the County Executive proposes a budget and the Council approves it by at least a 3 to 2 vote. The Council can delete or decrease a budget item when it is required by law, and the County Executive has no veto authority over the Council‚Äôs action. Thus, the notion that the County Executive has unlimited, unilateral authority over financial matters is completely false.
By sharing the financial approval process under Charter, a system of checks and balances is created which is not possible under a Commissioner style of government.
Amazingly, while Wicomico County also has responsibilities for two harbors, a commercial jet airport, a large civic center and a major league baseball park, their property tax rate is 76.9 cents per $100 of assessed value vs. Cecil County at 94.01 cents. Is it possible that the delta could be attributed to leadership skills and capabilities with a strong commitment to the public ‚Äď not politics?
It seems abundantly clear that with ‚ÄúDo Over Diana‚ÄĚ once again focused on the rear view mirror, it is going to be a wasteful and non-productive time as we wait for the 2012 election.
And now we hear ‚ÄúDo Over‚ÄĚ thinks she is qualified to be our County Executive‚Ä¶OMG!
Of general interest, of our 23 counties in Maryland, 10 counties have a Charter form of government, and 7 have a Commissioner style government and 6 have Code Home Rule. It is noteworthy that in our history no county has ever rescinded Charter government and returned to a Commissioner form government or adopted Code Home Rule.
FROM: Debbie Duff
I am concerned about the news‚Ä¶ that the County Treasurer was appointed to the Board of Cecil Federal [bank]. The Treasurer‚Äôs responsibility is to invest the county‚Äôs monies. I would think this would be a direct conflict of interest. Who is to say he would not show favoritism to Cecil Federal for investments?
FROM: Millie LaCorte
I am against Plan Maryland, a new regulation that discriminates against rural counties in favor of urban counties. It‚Äôs originated by Governor O‚ÄôMalley through Executive Decree and NOT by legislation through our elected representatives.
The Plan assaults private property rights and values directly by manipulation. Under this Plan, the State, will have control over local governments. They will tell us how and where we are allowed to grow as the State sees fit. Here‚Äôs the catch. The mapped “Growth Footprint” is for those areas that already are developed. They get State funding from our taxes whilst rural areas will not receive any funding – unless the State decides they want growth; meaning infrastructure of roads and of utilities, thus determining land value.
The State has a long history of taking money from the rural counties – and funneling them to the richer counties of Montgomery, Prince George, and Baltimore Counties. For example, 37% of toll money collected in all of Maryland comes from the crossing of the Susquehanna River between Harford and Cecil Counties.
This regulation is written to support the global goals of the U.N. document, Plan 21. The purpose of it is to “share and redistribute wealth” by the State.
Mr. O’Malley‚Äôs action is a power grab through executive decree that takes away my voice by manipulating the property value for me and future generations of rural counties. They will bankrupt our future in favor of the State by crushing us under the heel of State ambition.
FROM: Donna Caudell
Approximately a month ago, citizens of this county requested a town hall meeting with the Cecil County Commissioners. Commissioners Moore and Hodge accepted immediately. Commissioner Mullin has a scheduling conflict but will try to attend.
Commissioner Dunn never responded to the invitation and in order to avoid the event, conspired with the local Republican Central Committee to conveniently schedule another meeting on the same date/time as the town hall.
Dunn has been “in hiding” ever since elected and does not feel the need to address the concerns facing this county. When the citizens speak at the commissioners meeting, the procedure is that the commissioners are not allowed to respond; however Dunn referred to free speech by the citizens as a “shameful display”.
Commissioner Broomell campaigned on transparency, yet she never responded to the invitation and told the Whig she will not attend. So much for transparency. Dunn and Broomell must have forgotten that they work for us. Where’s the accountability?
Unfortunately, Maryland does not have a recall process. My hope is that when the voters go to the polls in the next election they remind the commissioners who works for whom.
[Editor‚Äôs Note: Ms. Caudell is a member of the steering committee of the Cecil County Patriots group, which organized the ‚Äútown hall‚ÄĚ meeting with county Commissioners that is scheduled for 7 p.m., Nov. 10 at the county administration building in Elkton.]
FROM: Sue Fuhrmann
Recent newspaper articles have reported criticisms of some County Commissioners for cancelling the wastewater agreement with Artesian. The critics perhaps do not understand the positive implications of this action for the County.
Cancellation of the wastewater franchise takes from Artesian significant control for locating development and helps bring it back to the County. The cancelled franchise had provided Artesian with the power to ‚Äú‚Ä¶prepare and submit to the County proposed amendments to the County‚Äôs Master Water and Sewer Plan‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ [From First Amendment to the Franchise for Water Services and Water Service Agreement By and Between Cecil County, Maryland and Artesian Water Maryland, Inc., 3.1. (a)]
In making amendments to the Master Water and Sewer Plan, Artesian would hold major power in locating where development could take place in the County.
Understandably, Artesian‚Äôs priorities lie in expanding its customer base, not in minimizing County expense to provide residential services to these developments (roads, schools, and other functions) nor in following the Comprehensive Plan. With Artesian being given the ability to submit amendments to the Master Water and Sewer Plan, the County would have lost the ability to determine development and take on huge financial obligations.
FROM: Dave Segermark
The second annual Cecilton CROP Walk is scheduled to take place on Saturday, November 5, organized by the United Methodist Men of Cecilton Parish.
Registration for the 3-mile walk will take place at 9:30 a.m. that day in the front yard of the Zion United Methodist Church parsonage, 164 West Main Street in Cecilton, just west of the junction of Routes 213 and 282. The walk itself kicks off at 10:30 a.m.
(Walkers are also welcome to come earlier and join the United Methodist Men for their monthly breakfast meeting that morning. Those interested should arrive at 8 a.m. Please e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone 410-275-8516 no later than Thursday, November 3, at noon if you plan to attend the breakfast.)
CROP (Communities Responding To Overcome Poverty) Walks are an outreach of the Church World Service, with the proceeds going to battle hunger and poverty both world-wide and close to home. Of the money raised from this year’s walk, 25 percent will be dedicated to local efforts to provide shelter and nutrition to those in need.
The beneficiaries from last year’s first CROP Walk included the Generation Station Youth Center in Chesapeake City, a local food pantry and Clairvaux Farm in Earleville. The latter assists Cecil County residents in need of housing, under the auspices of the Meeting Ground organization.
Last year’s inaugural walk raised imore than $2,500, and organizers are hoping to build on last year’s success and significantly increase that amount.
Participants will line up financial pledges of support from friends, neighbors and relatives in return for walking either one or two turns around the 3-mile course, which is located entirely within the boundaries of the town of Cecilton. Organizers have set a fundraising goal of at least $50 per walker, but any amount of financial support is welcome and appreciated.
Donations to an individual or team walking in the event can also be made online at: www.cropwalkonline.org/ceciltonmd.
Since their inception, CROP Walks have grown to encompass 2,000 such events across the United States each year, involving more than 2 million participants and annually raising $16 million to combat hunger and poverty around the world and close to home.
This year’s walk is an opportunity for individuals and organizations throughout Cecil County, particularly south of the C&D Canal, to come together ‚Äď both to get some fun exercise and to raise money for a very worthy cause. We are aiming for a large turnout, and urge those in the Cecilton community, as well as our neighbors in Kent County and the Middletown, Delaware area, to participate, and to encourage their friends and relatives to do so.
Please contact me, at 410-275-8516, for further information or to volunteer in the Cecilton CROP Walk.
FROM: Al Reasin
Since the Maryland Constition does not provide for recalls of county commissioners during their four-year term, we are stuck with what we have, for now.
We have one commissioner, Mr. Dunn, who reportedly lives for some reason in subsidized housing and has a garnishment on his salary which he lied by omission about in an interview with the Patriots; yet this politician has the gall to denounce those citizens who opposed his appointee to the planning board as presenting a shameful display. No so. It was pointed out his appointee was the least qualified of the three interested in the appointment and Dunn’s appointee was part of his campaign team, a crony appointment by definition.
Commissioner Broomell for some reason, as the article on September 20th shows, cannot let go of anything that irritated her in the past. She also seems to have superceded commissioner Mullin in reality as the President of the Board.
As one who attends the working sessions and other board meetings, Commissioner Broomell seems to be wanting to concentrate more power in the commissioners’ hands and, with three members voting almost always as a bloc, rule the county from her perspective. Her efforts extend to returning the road waiver appeals to the board of commissioners, a new and costly law firm to look at the Artesian contract again, the firing/forced resignations of personnel with whom she disagrees, not allowing a fellow commissioner to exercise his citizen’s right to redress over property zoning, and other issues that show a concern for power rather than her professed desire to serve the people….
As I have heard from many sources after meetings of the Board of Commissioners, this board is an embarrassment. It is a shame that all of the commissioners are painted with this broad brush, when Robert Hodge and Tari Moore are without question by their actions trying to represent what they believe is best for Cecil County’s citizens above what pleases their ego.
Good governance by public officials should show that they honor first their county, then the citizens they represent, then their party and last their ego. All too many honor their ego first.
FROM: Donna Caudell
Mike Smigiel, our delegate and also an attorney, is running for a Circuit Court judgeship in Cecil County.
His latest ploy, using the official state court seal on a letter he sent requesting contributions for his campaign, backfired on him when the recipients of the letter raised a red flag. This is now being reviewed by the legal counsel of the courts and is going to be referred to the Board of Elections.
What Smigiel calls a “mistake” I call a clear case of manipulation. Is he really that incompetent that he doesn’t understand the law? He is a lawyer. This is not the first time Smigiel has displayed poor judgment and sneaky behavior. This behavior is consistent with his history of failing to comply with election laws.
Now he wants to be a judge and determine your fate? Smigiel used the words “shocked and horrified” when he got caught; my exact words if he gets elected a judge.
FROM: Michael Burns
Regarding the review of the Artesian contract, it seems the most likely outcomes are the lawyers will find the contracts to be legitimate or they‚Äôll take advantage of the open-ended agreement to nit-pick it at $300/hr. from the county‚Äôs coffers.
And then to have another firm pick up from where Miles & Stockbridge left off? You don‚Äôt have to be a lawyer to know that upon taking over someone else‚Äôs work on a very complicated agreement there is going to be a huge learning curve, again all at the county‚Äôs expense.
The three commissioners have no qualms about cutting education and social services for the underprivileged; money that would at least stay in the county. No, that‚Äôs bad government spending. But paying fat fees to high-priced Baltimore lawyers for frivolous pursuits, that‚Äôs somehow good government spending.
When the commissioners take these unilateral actions, such as appearing before the PSC without discussing the implications with their fellow commissioners and the county professional staff, along with the collusion with Del. Smigiel, they appear to be running a shadow government. They‚Äôve managed to alienate even citizens who would normally be with them.
Commissioner Mullin served on the previous Board of Commissioners. If he had questions about the Artesian contract, couldn‚Äôt he have resolved them then, not now?
FROM: Cecil County Dept. of Public Works
To all residents of Meadowview, West Creek Village, Persimmon Creek, and Highlands, Elkton, MD:
Cecil County Department of Public Works, Water and Wastewater Division, will be flushing water mains and fire hydrants in your area on August 22 nd ‚Äď August 24th, 2011 between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. Flushing of water mains and hydrants is a standard practice that is done to remove the build- up of sediment and scale from the interior of water mains which will help maintain the quality of water delivered to our customers.
During this period there is the possibility that the water may become slightly discolored and customers may experience low water pressure for a few hours. Customers are advised to check the water before doing laundry during this period. If you have any questions please call Ronald Penhollow at 410-996-6260.
From: Al Reasin
The Maryland Constitutional provision allowing a petition for a referendum to be placed on the ballet to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving in state college tuition at state schools was successful. However, unbeknownst to the petition collectors and signers alike, the MD Public Information Act permitted the State Election Board to release the private information of the signers and collectors required by the petition regulations. There is a valid reason to have that information collected, to prevent fraud, but no logical reason to give out that information to those opposing the petition efforts.
However, that is in the past; lesson learned. Now what are we going to do for the future? Citizens knowing that their information is available to the opposition will be reluctant to sign petitions on controversial issues in the future. The experience of sponsors of the anti-gay marriage referendum in California, after their names were released by court order, is very instructive. Some may be fearful of retribution from CASA and their allies as well as the possibility of identity theft.
I have written to our legislative delegation that since the release of the petitioners’ names and private information is not a constitutional requirement, but the subject of a law and the in-house regulations of the State Board of Elections, that a bill be introduced during the October special session to make the private information about individual signers and collectors utilizing the constitutional petition provision be deemed confidential, as is hopefully my voting record.
Please write your state delegation in support of this change
From: John Cole
Stop The Blackmail!
On Tuesday, [county] commissioners voted 4-1 to maintain a three-year sunset clause in a slots revenue distribution agreement they want Perryville to sign. The signing must happen before the county will release the town‚Äôs 35 percent share of nearly $4 million that has been accumulating since Hollywood Casino Perryville opened last year.
The debate between the two government bodies stems from a loosely worded agreement signed by the previous board of commissioners and town officials that sets out a split of slots revenues of 65 percent to the county and 35 percent to the town, without designating an end to the terms.
State law says that ‚Äúlocal jurisdictions‚ÄĚ would get 5.5 percent of the gross revenue generated by a slots casino. Cecil County agreed to divide the revenue with Perryville because they both would be impacted by the casino.
The behavior of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners in this issue is reprehensible, and tantamount to blackmail.
The original agreement should stand in perpetuity; it was hammered out several years ago based upon the perceived impact.
Concerns have been raised that the casino revenues might drop; what difference does this make? A percentage is a percentage, and, if revenues did drop, then Perryville will take their knocks in exactly the same way as the County. The County should honor the existing agreement, and stop holding the Town of Perryville to ransom.
From: Cecil County SPCA & Hounds & Sportsman Assn.
The Cecil County Hounds & Sportsmans Assoc. Inc and the Cecil County SPCA, Inc. will be holding an all breed rabies clinic on Saturday July 9, 2011 from 9:00AM to 2:00PM at the Cecil County SPCA, Inc. shelter, at 3280 Augustine Herman Hwy, Chesapeake City, MD 21915. Heartworm testing and other vaccines will also be available.
From: Kennard Wiggins
Maryland has a state sales tax that applies equally to all residents, as well as those who make a purchase in the state. It taxes the incomes of its citizens in exactly the same way in Washington County as it does in Somerset County. You may not like taxes, but there is comfort in knowing that it is universally applied and everyone pays their ‚Äúfair‚ÄĚ share. I understand that some of my tax money pays for services and facilities elsewhere in the state, and likewise, that others may pay for improvements to my particular County.
Why then, are the tolls (read ‚Äúuse taxes‚ÄĚ) on bridges, tunnels and highways throughout the state charged at different rates? What is the rationale for this uneven scheme? Why are Cecil County residents forced to pay a disproportionately higher use tax while other locales pay less? The Baltimore bridge and tunnel users pay less than half the fare of the rural county users, and the Montgomery County users are taxed at about one fifth the rate of rural counties for the use of the ICC. The urban users in Baltimore and suburban Washington also enjoy abundant alternate routes should they choose to avoid tolls.
Those of us on the rural periphery, at the Potomac, on the Bay and in the Northeast all will pay a disproportionate and manifestly mandatory tariff on the use of Transportation Authority facilities. There are almost no alternative routes in the periphery if citizens want to avoid tolls. We have no choice but to pay.
The result is not only unfair and inequitable, but penalizes those on the rural periphery while subsidizing the urban/suburban center. Imagine if the state followed the logic of the MTA, and increased sales and income taxes only for those of us in the rural parts of the state. Then it would at least have the virtue of being truly consistent.
From: Cecil County Public Schools
The following list is the graduation ceremony schedule for local public high schools:
Bohemia Manor High School–June 9, 6:00 p.m.
contingency plan: June 10, 6:00 p.m.(inside if rain)
Elkton High School–June 10, 6:00 p.m.
contingency plan: June 11, 10:00 a.m.(inside if rain)
North East High School–June 9, 7:00 p.m.
contingency plan: June 10, 7:00 p.m.(inside if rain)
Perryville High School–June 10, 6:00 p.m.
contingency plan: inside if rain
Rising Sun High School–June 10, 6:30 p.m.
contingency plan: inside if rain
From: Donna Caudell
The Cecil County Patriots monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 4th at 7:30pm at the Cecil County Administration Bldg./Senior Center at 200 Chesapeake Blvd., Elkton. The topic for discussion will be illegal immigration/287(g) Program
From: Cecil County Chamber of Commerce
The Cecil County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the Legislative Reception sponsored by W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc. The Legislative Reception will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2011 from 6:00 ‚Äď 8:00 p.m. at the Chesapeake Inn Restaurant and Marina in Chesapeake City, Maryland.
Established more than twenty years ago, the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce serves as the primary representative of its membership on legislative and regulatory matters, advocates for a strong, viable economic environment in Cecil County. Events such as the Legislative Reception give the community the chance to hear a legislative session wrap-up from our local Delegation.
Join us for an evening of one-on-one interaction with our State Representatives. They will be updating us on key decisions from this Legislative Session.Light Hors d’oeuvres and Cash Bar. Register today at www.cecilchamber.com
From: Michael Burns
It‚Äôs been said that the true measure of a society is how they treat their least fortunate. Given that maxim let‚Äôs see how we‚Äôre faring today.
It was Wall Street elites who caused the financial crisis by their recklessness and greed, yet we respond by giving them more tax breaks and taking from those who are blameless but suffering the most.
Nearly 25% of American children are living at poverty level, many of them homeless due to foreclosures. So what kinds of cuts are considered at the local level? Head Start, and school meals for homeless children.
It wasn‚Äôt the poor who started two hapless, futile wars, all on borrowed money. They only fight them.
It‚Äôs so much easier to take from those who have no voice, no clout. They don‚Äôt have hired guns to plead their case on Fox News, or lobbyists to curry favors on lawmakers.
The top income tax rate has been reduced from over 90% during the Eisenhower administration to 50% in the Reagan years to 35% today. Billionaire hedge-fund managers‚Äô income is mostly taxed at 15% due to a loophole they‚Äôve fought hard (and spent) to keep. Republicans perversely claim this is necessary to stimulate the economy and boost tax revenues, but the economy hasn‚Äôt boomed since the Clinton administration when taxes were higher, which was also the last time we had budget surpluses.
The richest Americans have no shortage of defenders, especially in Congress, while it‚Äôs become acceptable and even fashionable to disparage the poor.
From: Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st)
Two weeks ago, the House passed the single largest spending cut in American history. The historic $100 billion cut marks a key turning point from a Congress that has ignored the will of the people to one that understands it can no longer continue to borrow forty cents for every dollar that it spends. We are cutting spending to foster an environment of economic stability that will encourage businesses to grow and create jobs.
This week the House is considering a temporary budget extension, called a Continuing Resolution (C.R.). The two week temporary budget extension will cut $4 billion from the Federal Budget and will avert a government shutdown. While some programs will have to be cut, it is time for Congress to make the same tough choices that every American has already had to make in their own households and businesses.
In addition to the C.R., the House will also continue to address the inherently flawed Obamacare bill. One of the most damaging parts of the law is the “1099 provision” which forces every business, large and small; to file burdensome tax forms every time it spends $600 or more with an individual vendor. This provision will cost a small business thousands of dollars to implement and hinders entrepreneurs from creating new jobs. Repealing the “1099 provision” will provide small businesses much needed relief.
Over the past few weeks, I visited every part of the 1st District and heard from as many elected officials and business owners as possible. I met with three county executives, eight county councils or commissions, and many mayors and other local elected officials. I am encouraged that these meetings have created an open dialogue about how the Federal Government can work with local officials to foster an environment for positive job growth.
I also held three town halls in Broadneck, Centreville, and Easton in February. The citizens of the district made it clear to me that they expect Congress to get its fiscal house in order. This message is one that we in the House take very seriously. We believe less government spending equals more private sector jobs.
In the coming weeks I look forward to holding more local and telephone town halls, so please visit our website at http://www.harris.house.gov for updated information, because your thoughts and concerns are very important to me. If I may ever be of assistance to you or your family, please let me know. Thanks again for the opportunity to serve you, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
From: Donna Caudell
Senator Pipkin has introduced a bill (SB 629) that will require YOU, the taxpayer, to pick up the bill that he can’t pay.
After he was so generous with the taxpayers’ money in 2006, when he voted to give the teachers extravagent benefits, he now wants to dump his bill back on the taxpayer/county and burn us even further without any relief.
Does he think that Cecil County taxpayers have extra cash floating around? Is the state going to require less money from the taxpayers to go to Annapolis, so that the local communities can absorb the cost through higher taxes?
It’s sad that we pay our elected officials to use common sense when negotiating/making decisions and they turn around and burn us. It’s unfortunate that Pipkin’s lack of fiscal responsibility and common sense may wind up falling on the families/communities who are tightening their belts to make ends meet. Can’t Annapolis apply the same rules to the state budget? How much more does Pipkin want to squeeze out of the taxpayers?
Perhaps we need to replace Pipkin with an every day citizen that understands the struggle in this every day economy and can actually make common sense decisions. Pipkin is way out of touch with the middle class – and this just shows how much.
Let your voices be heard and join the taxpayers in Annapolis on Wednesday, March 2nd at 1:00pm when he unleashes Bill SB629. Your bank account depends on it!
From: Cecil County Public Library
The Cecil County Public Library is pleased to announce that the Library Board of Trustees has elected two new officers. Mr. Dale DeWeese, the Board‚Äôs newly elected Board President, has served the Board since 2004 as both a member and Vice President under former President Mrs. Dale Kearns. Mr. Harry Hammond, who has served the Board since 2007, is the newly elected Vice President.
Mrs. Judith McKinney continues to serve as the Board as Treasurer. The Library Board also welcomes a new member, Brig. Gen. Kennard R. Wiggins, Jr. , who accepted his appointment by the Board of County Commissioners in January 2011.
Other Library Board members include Rev. Samuel H. Hartman, Mr. Anthony LoRusso, and Mr. Stephen Naughton. Library Director Ms. Denise Davis also serves the Board as Ex Officio member.
Among the duties of the trustees are to set library policy, advocate for library services and facilities with officials at the state and local level, to advise in the preparation of the budget and to approve the Library budget, to monitor library finances, and to select locations and approve plans for library expansion.
The Library Board of Trustees interview applicants and submits nominees who are then appointed by County Commissioners to a five year term. Trustees receive no payment for their valuable service to the Library.
From: Ted Patterson
Call Rep. [Andy] Harris‚Äôs office to ask him to vote against extension of three Constitution shredding provisions of the USA Patriot Act. This vote will occur this week so please call Rep. Harris at 202-225-5311.
At the very least it is inconclusive on all three of these provisions as to how they have actually aided us in apprehending terrorists or stopping terrorist plots. The Patriot Act violates our 4th Amendment rights under the US Constitution by permitting roving wiretap warrants that do not name an individual target. Prior FISA law did not require actual ‚Äúprobable cause‚ÄĚ for obtaining warrants for business record orders and the Patriot Act requires even less than FISA. Not having probable cause and issuing a warrant anyhow is another violation of our 4th Amendment protections.
Furthermore, the Lone Wolf provision has never been used ever‚Äďyet somehow we are still told that government needs this authority? Federal Courts have already found gag provisions of the ‚ÄúNational Security Letter‚ÄĚ statutes of the Patriot Act to be unconstitutional. The Inspector General of the US Dept. of Justice has said that his office found that FBI misuse of Patriot Act authority is ‚Äúwidespread and serious.‚ÄĚ The FBI has been breaking the law and shredding up the Constitution under Patriot Act authority for years and this is well documented in reports published. Please remember Benjamin Franklin‚Äôs warning: ‚ÄúThose who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.‚ÄĚ
From: Al Reasin
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, the Department of Public Works presented the solid waste capital improvement plan (CIP) budget and a look ahead for the next 5 years. Seemly not a very exciting subject, but as one who can be very critical of government and who has had field engineering experience across most construction oriented disciplines, I was impressed with the thoroughness and forethought shown in the plan and the effort to maximize savings by taking into account the other county projects, the economy’s impacts and the evolving regulatory process.
It was a shame that I was the only non-governmental citizen in attendance to hear the efforts of the department’s staff. Mr. Flanigan, Director of Public Works, can be proud of his and his staff’s efforts on behalf of the citizens of Cecil County.
As long as the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) regulations do not depart radically from those
of today, the expansion plan appears to be viable for well beyond the next five years; hopefully for the next 40 years, as one attendee remarked. I agree.
From: Al Reasin
Well, since I have been pushing for the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee, let me say this about that.
The commissioners take budget information obviously from the staff, but while the staff may be excellent, they have their own biases. The budget information from staff is a recommendation to the commissioners as will be those from the citizens committee. As we know there are many special interest groups applying pressure to the commissioners and maybe even staff. The commissioners will have another source of information representing tax paying citizens as a whole, but the commissioners still will have to make the decisions. Remember this, the commissioners have no line item control over the library’s, sheriff’s, college or school boards budgets. The commissioners can only vote to accept or reject those budgets. They will certainly have more control over the citizen’s committee proposals than the before mentioned budgets….
Here are some numbers to clear one’s head and see the magnitude of the budgets. The Cecil County school budget is proposed to be $178,527,532 for fiscal 2012 with $68,350,618 from the county, $9,397,365 from the federal government, $98,286,549 from the state and $2,493,000 from other sources such as interest. The total county budget is proposed at $159,322,568, which is almost $20,000,000 less than the board of education’s proposed budget with revenues from all sources. So if the state dumps the $2.5 million to $8 million teachers pension fund on the county board of education and the state Maintenance of Effort law from 1984 will not allow the school budget to be cut without a waiver from the state, where is this money going to come from? The overall county budget, the school budget and the other budgets are being impacted by state and federal monies being cut; in some cases there are mandates to spend money, in a certain manner, and will remain regardless of the funding amount from outside of Cecil County sources.
I was at the last school board budget meeting and 5 citizens, not involved in government or the media, were there; 5 citizens! So if the tens of thousand of Cecil County citizens are not interested in how their tax money is being spent, so be it. I care. And the 11 months I spend on my corner in Cecil County just wetted my appetite to get involved. This time where I have more of a direct voice in government’s actions and spending. Oh, I don’t want to be on the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee, but I will be at the budget and commissioner’s meetings.
Our county commissioners are going to have some very hard decisions to make and few citizens will like them. A Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee is certainly not a cure all, but with the economic situation our county and nation finds itself, decisions will have to be made and the more information the commissioners have, hopefully, the more equitable will be their decisions on spending priorities.
From: Al Reasin
If there was a time for political and personal rancor, it was during the election campaign season some months ago. We now have a serious budgetary problem in Cecil County: the estimated 23% loss of state and federal monies, lower property assessments in northwestern Cecil County and the difficulty of serious cutting the large school budget due to state law. To resolve this problem requires the rhetoric to become constructive rather than destructive from all parties.
We need citizens of all stripes to attend the scheduled budget reviews listed on the different websites and to civilly offer constructive suggestions to the commissioners and the other budget entities’ leadership on what should be cut and prioritized. Remember that the commissioners do NOT have a line item veto over the budgets offered by the school board, the libraries, the sheriff’s office or the college. Each of their budgets must be digested, reviewed, analyzed and changes proposed separately from that portion controlled directly by the commissioners. However citizens can recommend that the commissioners reject the different budgets, as well, if they do not conform to their expectations.
Shortly the county website will post the overview of the county’s budget and the impacts on it as was presented at the public budget meeting Tuesday January 11th. I hope fellow citizens will be alerted to …the budget to be posted shortly at www.ccgov.org.
Last year some friends tried wading through the budget and found it almost incompressible. With mandates, unfunded mandates, grants with specific requirements, and the like undefined in the budgets, the average person, without having the institutional knowledge of the different staffs, is lost when reviewing the line items.
Thus armed with that information and my own attempt to determine the programs that receive grants, I have asked the county treasurer to develop a menu of the different mandates and grants, the amounts and percentages that apply to different programs. I asked this of him so that all can see the impact of the different potential and actual reductions in monies from state and federal sources, how they apply to specific programs and agencies and the cost for the county to assume the responsibility for programs that may lose funding. The little I have gleaned on my own initiative has literally shocked me with the knowledge of the number of and type of programs that are funded by state and federal grants.
This is a time to join in a spirited debate on how our county goes forth, not dwell on what went before.
From: Al Reasin
One of the questions I had asked the sprinkler system expert, Mr. Pearce, to address at the moratorium hearings was the minimum requirements for a sprinkler system. Unfortunately, he did not address that issue at the hearing or in the Whig interview.
The county code now states that the system is to be designed and installed in accordance with Section 313.2.1 of the International Residential Code (2009). OK, wonderful. I’m sorry but even having had experience with sprinkler systems and codes in the past, I would want basic system requirements specified in plain English. The county should in some way provide that information whether the system is optional or mandated. The proposed consumer sign off sheet for acknowledging the purchase of the system could include it.
An example of just nice to have information is whether or not the design includes an alcohol filled glass sensor that will break at a set temperature to open the sprinkler head as Mr. Pearce described. It is not the best device for a family dwelling. I have worked with those types of sprinkler heads in industrial applications, but in a family home a bimetallic device offers more protection from an accidental initiation of a sprinkler head, by say children playing. Also does the code require the sprinkler system to bypass the metered water system to maintain water pressure and proper flows to protect the economic interests of the homeowner? Safety may be a prime concern, but economic issues should not be ignored.
From: James Hutchinson
It is very sad any time a home, personal belongings – and worst of all – lives are lost due to house
fires. God bless those in our community who have been affected by such tragedy and I thank
God for the volunteer firefighters who risk so much to help others when these unfortunate
Nevertheless, it is absolutely critical that we the people defend with passion and diligence our
personal rights and liberties by fighting to keep the government out of our private transactions.
The debate about mandating sprinkler systems is not a debate about safety, it is about freedom.
No one is questioning the effectiveness of a modern sprinkler system and its ability to save lives,
prevent the spread of house fires, etc. However, allowing the government to force the purchase
of sprinkler systems not only increases the cost of a home, it negates the homebuyer’s personal
liberty and abolishes their freedom to choose -with full awareness of their own personal financial
situation ‚Äď the best way to protect their investment and secure the safety of those occupying the
home. Especially when the government already mandates the installation of hardwired smoke
alarms with battery backup.
In a capitalist, free-market society such as ours, educating the consumer about the effectiveness
of a product is absolutely the best way to promote and sell good products. I am convinced that if
homebuilders, sprinkler system manufacturers / distributors installers all work closely with
members of the fire departments, they can develop incredible marketing material to promote the
safety benefits of sprinkler systems. Partnering with Realtors to get this material presented at the
point of purchase ensures that homebuyers are properly educated about the life-saving effects of
sprinkler systems. This empowers homebuyers to make a sound and educated decision without
the need for government intervention.
Finally, I have heard people make the point that the low cost of the mandated sprinkler system
can easily be rolled into the mortgage loan and financed at minimal cost. They justify the
argument by stating that the savings from homeowners insurance as a result of the sprinkler
system will offset the extra cost incurred as a result of the mandate. It is not OK to say that the
banks will amortize the purchase of a sprinkler system as part of the mortgage. That is exactly
the kind of “deficit-spending” mentality we are trying to remove from our government.
According to that way of thinking, there will always be one more small cost or fee or tax that
gets imposed by the government for “the good of the consumer.”
Unfortunately, each time it happens, the cost of consumer goods goes up, the government grows in size, and our personal freedom and liberty gets stripped away a little more. Not to mention, this whole argument is
based on a big assumption about how insurance companies will act during the period of time that
the homeowner pays off the extra costs imposed by the government mandate.
In closing, I am a huge advocate for safety and for freedom. I hope people choose to have a
sprinkler system installed in their new homes. I believe that if homebuyers are properly educated
about the life-saving effects of sprinkler systems in the home, they will make the best decision
about protecting their investment and securing the safety of those occupying the home. In the
interest of capitalism, freedom, and liberty, I strongly oppose a government mandate to force the
installation of sprinkler systems in newly built single family homes.
From: Al Reasin
I was disappointed that on the issue of a hearing for a moratorium on the January 1, 2011 enforcement of the erroneous code change on the installation of sprinkler systems in single family dwellings and duplexes, Commissioner Mullin, and in particular Commissioner Broomell, voted to deny a public hearing on the issue. It is now recognized that there was never a mandate to change the county building code due to the efforts of Delegate Sossi and the issue being raised in the county by Commissioner Hodge, so the conditions for an open debate have changed.
Yet two of our commissioners would not give the public an opportunity to examine the necessity to spend a considerable amount of money, some estimates are up to $20,000 for a large home and down to $5000 for a smaller structure with those costs being amortized over the life of the loan.
Some have said that the savings on insurance would over 10 years cover the cost of the installation. My insurance company will give a 10% reduction in insurance costs. Check your insurance costs and determine if a 10% saving each year would cover the low end $5000 cost of a system even without considering the increased interest costs associated with a larger mortgage.
Additionally, beyond economic considerations, the people need to have input to determine whether or not they should be required to install a sprinkler system in a new home that the National Fire Protection Association says will increase the survival rate from homes with operational smoke detectors from 99.41% to 99.6% with homes with sprinkler systems and operational smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors are required in all new homes and additions under the building code; speaking as former fireman and test engineer for fire systems, they do save lives. I have more smoke detectors installed in my home than required by the county code and CO detectors as well. Last year a smoke detector alerted me to the possibility of property damage from my wood stove and a few years ago a CO detector alerted me to a concentration of CO from a propane heater, so I have a great respect for the capabilities of these safety devices; less so for sprinkler systems as life saving systems in single family dwellings. However I have a great respect for sprinkler systems in industrial and multi-family dwellings, which will remain in the building code.
As we all know government at all levels continues to encroach on citizens freedom of choice on economic issues and personal rights. I thought that this election had demonstrated and candidates were disposed to safeguard the right of we, the people, to determine the direction of our lives with less government interference. It is hard to do so if the right of the people to voice their opinions is denied.
(Editor’s note: The commissioners voted 3-2 to consider a moratorium on the effective date of the sprinklers rule and a public hearing is scheduled for January on the delay, which would give the county up to six months to review options on the sprinkler issue.)
From: Cecil County Chamber of Commerce
The Cecil County Chamber of Commerce will host the 9th Annual Cecil Business Expo, Business Extravaganza on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. [UPDATE: The Jan. 11 event has now been postponed until March.]
We are enhancing your Business Expo experience. In partnership with Cecil College, we are hosting the Expo in Cecil College‚Äôs brand new Gymnasium and Technology center. Come and immerse yourself in a full day of Cecil County Business. We will begin with setup between 9-11:00 AM, followed by a luncheon, opening the Expo to the public, break out educational sessions, and Business After Hours. There are many opportunities to promote your business and learn new skills during the Business Extravaganza. Visit www.cecilchamber.com for more information.
We are very pleased to have Col. Orlando Ortiz, Command, USAG-APG as our guest speaker for the luncheon. He will be addressing the progress of BRAC and the status of APG. This will be an excellent opportunity for the community and Chamber businesses to learn more about the impact of BRAC on the area, and how it affects business.
From: State Sen. Nancy Jacobs
I am both humbled and honored that you chose me to represent you in the State Senate. Thank you for your vote and support.
I‚Äôd like to add a very special thank you to all of our volunteers for their hard work, long hours and dedication to our shared goals.
Together we will continue to fight for tougher laws against child sexual predators, cracking down on gang violence and fighting against onerous tax hikes that hurt working families and small businesses.
You can count on me to work hard day and night for the fine people of Harford and Cecil counties. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 410-841-3158, email@example.com or via my website at www.nancyjacobs.com if there is anything I can ever do to help you.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for re-electing me to the State Senate.
From: Kennard Wiggins
I‚Äôm for good government. For this reason, I commend to you the efforts of the local non-partisan board of citizens who have drafted a Charter government proposal for Cecil County. It will be on the ballot in November. I urge you to read and review this document: http://www.ccgov.org/commissioners/charterboard.cfm.
Our present form county commissioner government is a government by committee that can do little more than shift from crisis to crisis. There is no single individual accountable for any single action. Charter government would give us a County Executive whose feet could be held to the fire of responsibility. Charter government would help relieve us from the interference in local affairs by Annapolis politicians. The best governance is the one that is closest to us, and I believe a Charter government for our county would be preferable to the dictates from Annapolis.
A noteworthy, innovative, and commendable feature of the Charter Government Initiative is the requirement for a five year strategic plan by the County Executive, the Council and department heads in a public forum with public participation. It requires that this plan be annually reviewed in open session, and sets the five most important priorities for the County. It would be refreshing for our leadership to place their decisions on a deliberative process in a meaningful context instead of lurching from one emergency to the next.
Some are wary of Charter Government because they fear additional cost of government. This is a legitimate concern in these difficult times and one with which I sympathize. The Charter Board was well aware that previous Charter efforts floundered on these very rocks and took pains to avoid the shoals of additional expense. They wisely designed a structure that is almost neutral in terms of the costs of the structure by reducing some salaries, and eliminating some positions in order to ‚Äúpay the bill‚ÄĚ for the added features.
The cost of government is mostly a result of population and services provided ‚Äď not a result of the form of local government. Charter government cannot create new taxes, impact fees, or new tax credits. The people we elect to serve in Annapolis do that. The ability to govern locally, effectively, and more efficiently (see the long range plan feature) makes the case that this form of local government could be better than neutral in terms of cost. It will certainly be more transparent, and responsive to the voters, and that alone offers the probability of cost benefits. I urge you to study the Charter, and vote for it in November.
From: Anneliese Johnson
It is time! Early voting continues through October 28. Election Day is November 2. We must take seriously our duty to elect those whom we believe will uphold our values, and represent our vision for the future of our country, our state and our county.
I have watched debates, visited candidate websites, and spoken to my candidates or their representatives. I am excited to cast my ballot for Tari Moore for Cecil County Commissioner. Just as our state needs strong leadership, so too does our county. Tari is smart, hard working, and honest. Her business acumen, legislative knowledge and ability to forge partnerships with others make her uniquely qualified to guide Cecil County through the challenges we will face in the next four years. Find her ideas at:
Your vote in this election is important. Get informed. Choose wisely. ‚ÄúLet each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual‚Ä¶ but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ Samuel Adams, 1781.
From: Harry Hepbron
I thank the many Republicans who supported me for County Commissioner in the primary election, but too few mainstream voters bothered to show up at the polls to allow me to win. It is sad that some extremists of my party did not listen to a voice of reason.
But the time has come for voters to put aside partisan differences and do what is best for our county. It is time for someone to step up and say this: it is not about what political party you are from, it is all about what is best for Cecil County and who has the leadership qualities and experience to serve our county.
So, in a spirit of bipartisanship and concern for the county I love, I am endorsing two Democrats in the November election: David Rudolph, for state Delegate; and Carl Roberts, for Cecil County Commissioner. Both Del. Rudolph and Dr. Roberts are intelligent, experienced people who have shown they will work for the best interests of Cecil County citizens, without regard to political party. We have had enough of political partisanship that makes people fight one another and attack our county government.
Every time our county has a problem that must be dealt with in Annapolis, Del. Rudolph has been a leader for us. He has also been recognized by the statewide media as one of the top ten leaders in the House of Delegates.
Carl Roberts made our schools a top flight program that is the envy of other counties. He has the intelligence, experience and heart to do what is best, and right, for Cecil County.
I urge my fellow Cecil County citizens to support David Rudolph for Delegate, and Carl Roberts for County Commissioner. It is not about political party; it is all about responsible, intelligent and bipartisan leadership for Cecil County and our children’s future.
(Editor’s Note: Harry Hepbron served two terms as a Cecil County Commissioner and was an unsuccessful candidate for Commissioner in this year’s Republican primary.)
From: Anneliese Johnson
My monthly budget for groceries for my family of five is $400. I pay $24 a month in sales tax on this money, $4 more than I would have paid under the Ehrlich administration due to O‚ÄôMalley‚Äôs 20% increase in sales tax. This may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly when applied to all the goods and services we use throughout the year.
Yet O‚ÄôMalley is continuously attacking Bob Ehrlich for the ‚Äúflush tax,‚ÄĚ a $30 annual fee (not a tax) for Maryland residents that funds the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bay Restoration Fund. The Chesapeake Bay has always been Maryland‚Äôs jewel. Its bounty of recreational joys, natural resources and economic opportunities are hard to measure. When rising nitrogen and phosphorus levels threatened the health of our bay, Ehrlich had the foresight to step in and reduce this pollution by creating a fund to update sewage treatment facilities and aid farmers in planting cover crops to reduce runoff. The fee, $2.50 per month, is meant to be used specifically for this purpose.
O‚ÄôMalley has not only attacked Ehrlich for his environmentally conscious plan, but has also raided this fund, taking monies set aside for the bay and applying them instead toward the ‚Äėgeneral fund.‚Äô This vicious attack is dishonorable and unfounded, and distracts from the real issue of over $6.4 billion dollars in new taxes from O‚ÄôMalley, not including the 43 new services he wants to tax next year.
Vote for responsible government; vote Bob Ehrlich.
EDITOR’s NOTE: Since Maryland does not charge sales tax on food or certain health supplies, your figures of how much sales tax you pay imply that your shopping cart contains no food, only taxable items such as household products, etc. Perhaps you should check your register receipts.
RESPONSE from Anneliese Johnson, 10/22:
With respect, to the editor: thank you for the correction to my grocery budget analogy. My intention was to use a platform that all readers could relate to in order to illustrate how much more detrimental the increased sales tax has been to my family budget versus the $30 annual fee. Families will spend their hard earned money in different ways, much of it subject to Maryland sales tax, yet everyone has a budget for groceries. I stand by my assertion that O‚ÄôMalley‚Äôs 20% increase in the sales tax is far more damaging to my budget than the so called ‚Äúflush tax.‚ÄĚ
From: Michael Burns
Delegate Richard Sossi has served his district well for two terms and deserved to be re-nominated, earning a reputation as fair, reasonable, and attentive to his constituents. He was apparently so well regarded he faced no Democratic opposition for his seat.
However, it was precisely this independence and fair-mindedness that incurred Senator E. J. Pipkin‚Äôs wrath. Consequently Senator Pipkin, sensing an opportunity to further his kingmaker status, paid for a last-minute smear campaign against Mr. Sossi that helped nominate one of Pipkin‚Äôs lackeys, Stephen Hershey, instead.
The traditionally reasoned and fair-minded voters of the upper Eastern shore must ask themselves if Sen. Pipkin‚Äôs dirty politics are truly representative of the region once affectionately known as the land of pleasant living. In fact his tactics seem much more at home on Wall Street where he made his fortune.
They also risk losing someone who has always acted in what he thought were their best interests, including respecting the authority of locally elected county officials. Mr. Hershey is now indebted and answerable to Sen. Pipkin, the same lockstep loyalty shown by Delegate Mike Smigiel, who has also been implicated in the smear.
As Mr. Hershey has no opponent in the general election, the voters of District 36 would risk nothing by writing in a vote for Mr. Sossi, and keep a good man in office were they to succeed.
Sen. Pipkin, on the other hand, can be defeated the traditional way.
From: Susan Matkins
A quality sheriff must have certain attributes. Among them are accountablilty, approachability, and respect. He must be accountable for his actions, as well as those of his deputies, with no excuses. The citizens must feel comfortable approaching him, without fear of retaliation or stonewalling. He must show respect to his deputies and citizens, and be worthy of the respect he gains in return.
After observing and meeting the candidates on several occasions, I must say that Chris Sutton has all the attributes of a quality sheriff. I have observed Mr. Sutton handle difficult situaltion with the utmost professionalism. He treats people from all walks of life with respect, and answers questions in a timely manner. No wonder he is endorsed and respected by so many local law enforcement and public safety fraternities.
On Election Day, I will choose a quality sheriff…Chris Sutton.
From: Joe Carabetta
Now that all the votes have been counted, I would like to thank all the voters who turned out to vote on 14 September or during early voting, and especially the ones that honored me with their vote for Cecil County Republican Central Committee. This was certainly a year where your vote really counted. In the election for Republican Central Committee, there were only 57 votes which separated five people running for nine of the slots available.
Now we must focus on November 2nd and the early voting period which runs from 22-28 October, except for Sunday the 24th, to insure that the voters are energized to come out and vote. This election will be the most pivotal of our lifetime. We must choose between continuing on the path of reckless spending, big government control of your life and runaway taxation, or one of controlled spending, smaller government and lower taxes. The choice is yours!
Thank you again for exercising your right to vote which has been secured by the blood, sweat and tears of our country‚Äôs veterans, both past and present.
From: Chris Sutton
I am proud to announce that the Cecil County Correctional Officers Association and the Cecil County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #2 and the Cecil County Paramedics Association have given me their endorsement to be your next Sheriff.
(Editor’s Note: You can read the FOP Lodge 2 endorsement statement here: ) http://www.cecilfop2.com/Main/2010_fop_sheriff_endorsement.pdf
From: Anneliese Johnson
Over the past four years, Maryland has endured business and job losses, tax increases and dishonesty from Annapolis. It is critical that we act upon the opportunity of this election year to replace [Gov. Martin] O‚ÄôMalley with an honest, hardworking governor who will lead our great state out of the mire we are in. Bob Ehrlich is the man for the job.
Ehrlich‚Äôs Roadmap to 2020 promotes real solutions for the problems facing our state, not vague talking points and empty rhetoric. 216,000 Marylanders are unemployed and this number just keeps growing. Maryland experienced the largest increase in unemployment in the nation in August. Bob Ehrlich‚Äôs Small Business Bill of Rights will attract and win back businesses that have left the state because of high tax burdens and stifling regulation. Worker retraining will get our unemployed citizens ready and qualified for new positions. He will also repeal the 20% increase in state sales tax, something that has personally impacted each of us, and he will oppose the 43 new taxes that Annapolis is currently looking to generate.
Bob Ehrlich will bring common sense back to the budgeting process, using conservative revenue estimates and a value for dollar examination process so that our government will be better fiscal stewards of our tax dollars. You can view the Roadmap to 2020 at http://www.bobehrlich.com for more information on Ehrlich‚Äôs plan for Maryland. The arrogance and misrepresentations by Annapolis must be answered with clear, deliberate action. Vote Bob Ehrlich for Maryland.
(Editor’s Note: Ms. Johnson was an unsuccessful candidate for Republican Central Committee in the recent primary.)
From: Al Reasin
Recently the letters to the editor at the Whig from the Smigiel/Pipkin slate have taken on a personal attack tone; they know we cannot respond because of the Whig‚Äôs policy. One suggested the leadership of the Cecil County Patriots (CCP) be replaced. The letters from the members of the slate skirted the issue that concerned the CCP steering committee of which I am a member: the use of the TEA Party label of approval. They have yet to demonstrate that any TEA Party organization has actually approved their candidacies.
One letter said the CCP leadership left out that we were running against him for the [Republican] Central Committee. We have 5 members on the steering committee and 2 are running for the Republican Central Committee. The CCP as an organization has not and will not approve/endorse these candidates; I am not on the ballot. The CCP does not approve/endorse candidates regardless of who is running for office and we have many candidates who are members, both Democratic and Republican. We work hard to maintain that position and let me tell you this: it is very hard to do so when candidates are friends, or worse, relatives. ‚Ä¶
As to Delegate Smigiel and Senator Pipkin having taken it upon themselves to announce via an ad in the Cecil Whig on September 3rd that they are ‚ÄúTEA Party Tested and Approved,‚ÄĚ that sparked a denunciation from the steering committee of the Cecil County Patriots. While it is true that Mr. Smigiel has been involved in the TEA Party and has spoken at rallies based on my own observations, he has no more credibility than I have on this issue since I have been involved in the TEA Party movement since February 27, 2009 and have spoken at many TEA Parities as well, even beyond Maryland.
As is too often the case with politicians, Delegate Smigiel and Senator Pipkin have placed their own interests and those of their political allies above those of an organization which was and is based on informing the public‚Ä¶
The disagreement is not that Mr. Smigiel and Pipkin do not have some of the same beliefs as TEA Party members and organizations, but that they have taken the TEA party label and applied it to their entire slate for their own political goals and those of their slate. Yes, the TEA Party label is not copyrighted, so this comes down to a matter of ethics‚Ä¶.The purpose, IMHO, of Mr. Smigiel‚Äôs and Pipkin‚Äôs slate is to drain support from other Republicans and later Democrats in part by flying the false flag of TEA Party approval.
I observed that in Mr. Smigiel‚Äôs letter to the Whig in rebuttal to Donna Caudell, another Cecil County Patriots‚Äô steering committee member, he is careful to never claim an approval of his candidacy or slate by a specific TEA Party organization; the Cecil County Patriots are the Cecil County Tea Party organization. In Webster, approved is a synonym for endorsed. ‚Ä¶
As the citizens of America loudly decry politics on the national scene, it is now up to the voters to decide the ethics of our local politicians in the use of the TEA Party label by the Smigiel and Pipkin slate.
I see no response on the Delegate Mike [Smigiel] blog. He usually reacts to criticism by demanding apologies, threatening lawsuits, and generally acting like a volcano. Perhaps he has been ‚ÄúTea Party busted.‚ÄĚ Perhaps [Sen. E.J.] Pipkin has not authorized a response. I patiently await the usually spectacular eruption of Mount Smigiel.
From: Dorothy Sherman
Some of us do not want to be labeled as members of the tea party, and therefore do not attend candidate debates hosted by this group.
At this late date, is there anywhere one can go, to learn a candidate‚Äôs stand, on the issues of the day? There used to be a group called ‚ÄúThe League of Women Voters,‚ÄĚ but I haven‚Äôt heard much of, or from them lately. Do they still exist?
(Editor‚Äôs Note: Dorothy, there is no Cecil County League at this time. There are active chapters in Kent County and Queen Anne‚Äôs County that publish a voters‚Äô guide and host candidate forums. They hosted a forum for 36th Dist. Delegate and Senate races which cover Cecil County. See Cecil Times news coverage of that event here:
From: Donna Caudell
Senator E.J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel are trying to deceive voters. They, along with their slated Fiscal Conservative Central Committee Team, have distributed ads which claim that they are ‚Äútea party tested, tea party approved.‚ÄĚ However, the tea party is NOT endorsing or ‚Äúapproving‚ÄĚ any candidates.
In fact, no individuals on this slate have actively supported or helped their local tea party, and some members have even worked against the principles that the tea party stands for. There are members of the local tea party group, the Cecil County Patriots, who are running for office, but these individuals have chosen not to use the tea party or Cecil County Patriots name as a tool for their own candidacies. There are people in the Cecil County Patriots who have sacrificed a lot of time, energy, and wealth to further the tea party agenda of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a government which derives its powers from the people.
For the Pipkin-Smigiel team to try to co-opt other people‚Äôs efforts to use in their own candidacies is unconscionable. This Pipkin-Smigiel ‚Äúteam,‚ÄĚ which includes Ted Patterson, Chris Zeauskas, Michael Dunn, Michael Dawson, Carrie Taylor, Brad Carrilo, James Hutchinson, Jim Mullin, and Joe Tropp, are attempting to deceive voters and as a result do not deserve anyone‚Äôs vote.
From: Al Reasin
A recent political advertisement entitled, ‚ÄúThe Republicans of Cecil Fiscal Conservative Team,‚ÄĚ has a statement reading, ‚ÄúTea Party Tested, Tea Party Approved.‚ÄĚ Delegate Michael Smigiel has a similar statement on some of his campaign literature. As a member of the Cecil County Patriots steering committee and one who has been very involved in the TEA Party movement since February 27, 2009, I can say unequivocally that the movement in Cecil County does not endorse candidates or parties.
While our movement may be characterized as conservative and traditional, we have taken great pains to try and remain non-partisan, to serve all voters, and thus do not endorse candidates. That said, all candidates are welcome to our meetings and can introduce themselves and participate in our discussions.
To these candidates listed on the advertisement flying under this false flag of a general TEA Party endorsement, I am angered by this unwarranted. attempted usurpation of our credibility. They do not show the proper respect towards our Cecil County Patriots grassroots organization nor to the organizers of the Cecil County TEA Parties. This is a sad day in the politics of Cecil County.