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The Right To Know

Editorial

April 11, 2005

Over the past several years The Weinberg Center for The Arts has been the axis of far too many controversies. Problems with the administration of the facility have been at the heart of almost every one of these situations. It has only been in the past year or so that an air of calm has descended on the 1926 movie palace.

Now comes word, first reported here on www.thetentacle.com, that the City of Frederick and Stewart Seal, a former director of The Weinberg, have reached agreement for a settlement of Mr. Seal's $3.5 million wrongful termination lawsuit.

Katherine Heerbrandt, a reporter for The Gazette, wrote in last week's paper that the City of Frederick had written a check for $35,000 as its part of the settlement. The article said this was the deductible on the city's liability insurance policy.

City officials have refused any further disclosure of the total settlement Mr. Seal received. Lynn Board, former city attorney and Mr. Seal's lawyer in the case, is bound - as is Mr. Seal - by a non-disclosure agreement signed as part of the settlement.

City officials also signed that non-disclosure agreement and are hiding behind it to remain silent and refuse to inform the public just how much taxpapers' money went to Mr. Seal.

The claim that only $35,000 of the settlement was taxpayers' money is bogus. Taxpayers funded the premiums for that liability insurance policy and have a right to know how much was paid to Mr. Seal in total. It will be telling when the premium for next year's insurance is made public with the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2006 budget.

It will also be revealing as the seven pending lawsuits in the Frederick County Circuit Court are resolved. We wonder if the City of Frederick will disclose how much is paid out in those cases, should the city be on the losing side, or will the mayor and the Board of Aldermen once again hide behind specious arguments.


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