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Culprit #1 Is Gone! Who's Next?
David 'Kip' Koontz

February 18, 2002

Herzonner Jennifer Dougherty has launched an investigation into Frederick's "Watergate" assessment district monies. The investigation, or someone, has apparently already found culprit number one, Gary Hessong, director of Permits and Codes.

From what can be gleaned through hearsay, innuendo and conversations held with hushed overtones in backrooms all over Frederick, Mr. Hessong was the first to go because he allegedly spoke untruthfully to Herzonner about his knowledge of the mysteriously created assessment districts.

Mr. Hessong's departure/dismissal was decided eight days after the story about the assessment districts broke in The Gazette, which has to be some sort of record in the "I can take care of things" hall of records. This decision did not sit well, however, with the "Band of Brothers", (Aldermen Hall, Baldi and Lenhart). We haven't heard anything from "The Sisters" as yet.

It seems that the Band felt it necessary to call for a review of the decision based on alleged information they uncovered that supposedly proves that what Mr. Hessong told Herzonner was indeed correct. (Wow, for a new an improved "open government" we have a lot of alleged's and supposed's going on.)

So, the Band used Charter methods to call for an executive session to discuss their findings. One can raise several questions at this point.

  1. Is Herzonner being so unreasonable that the Band felt they couldn't just go to her and ask for a meeting?
  2. Were the Band simply grandstanding, simply for the sake of getting press for themselves, embarrassing Herzonner and being confrontational?
  3. Would the Band be behaving this way if we had Hissoner in office, not, Herzonner?

In the meantime, we must ask, what is really going on? The quietness surrounding this has fallen under the aspects of "executive session" protections, which is all well and good, as this situation is indeed a personnel issue. Yet, the deafening silence of it all seems to fly in the face of Herzonner's promise of a more open and forthcoming administration. The silence has led many to wonder what has happened and why?

Even the responses of the Band after Monday's executive session left most stumped. Mr. Hall said nothing, while the other two mumbled something about, "not necessarily getting what we wanted but we got something and we talked about it," or something to that effect. Frankly, their lack of comment has only made many citizens more confused.

Some may not care about all the gory details of Mr. Hessong's alleged or real transgressions. Some say we do not need to know everything, as this is a personnel matter. What we do need to know is whether Mr. Hessong was corrupt. Corrupt city employees violate the public trust as much as does a corrupt elected official and in many cases can do more harm because of their tenure in office.

The "Hessong Matter" has happened in unconventional and mysterious ways leading many to question what's real and what's not? When will we be deemed suited to find out?

When one of the most high profile campaign issues in the recent election was "open government", does it benefit Herzonner to begin her term with an investigation/departure/dismissal that is cloaked in secrecy?

Herzonner has told us that the "Watergate" investigation is in its infancy. Let us hope that as we progress through it, we the people are kept a slight bit more in the loop. After all, $14 million is a good sum of money to some of us.


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