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A Cold, Bitter Wind Is Blowing Through Town

David 'Kip' Koontz

June 03, 2002

There is an old song called, "They Call the Wind Maria," though curiously not all that long ago, Herzonner Jenita referred to herself as "The Wind."

Too bad The Wind that blows across Frederick is now a cold one. A frigid one. A bitter one.

Not long after Jenita ascended to the mayoralty, there were warning signs that the slight breeze had the potential for development into hurricane strength.

The Wind first blew harshly toward Jesse Goode, who served the city as community relation's director, but, of course, was appointed during the previous administration.

While most reviews of Mr. Goode's performance (in a position he was working to create as he went along) were excellent.

He was, however, not to Jenita's liking and was the first blown out of City Hall.

Next to feel the effects of The Wind was Gary Hessong, who allegedly dared disagree with Jenita.

He was accused of telling her untruths and though it is said that he was indeed proven to have spoken accurately to Herzonner - she insisted he must go and, whoosh, he was dismissed.

While The Wind had blown hard during her campaign that the scandal surrounding the "black book" and all it contained would receive an open and public disclosure upon her election - The Wind deemed it necessary and convenient to blow that pledge swiftly out the window.

The Wind blew next when she was determined to hire two assistants.

Though it was said that Herzonner didn't need two and that she may be violating hiring practices, she huffed and she puffed until her favorite was picked, Eva Rosvold.

The wind picked up strength as she set her sights on her next target, the hiring of the city's new chief operating officer.

While it was pointed out that the job description was changed and not yet approved (nor could it be until the next year's budget cycle) The Wind howled until she was successful in blowing the votes her way to hire the quasi-COO, or whatever the position truly is.

Curiously, the new job description is exceptionally similar to the job description of The Wind's first casualty, Jesse Goode.

As many wind storms do when the conditions are right, they strengthen and Jenita's harsh wind was just beginning to be felt and heard.

The Wind was gusting at gale force as she demanded that Alderman Donna Kuzemchak-Ramsburg be appointed to the Planning Commission.

She went as far to veto a negative vote(?????) in order to vent her fury to get her way. Strengthened by that win - The Wind became self-assured - the voting alliance she needed had been blown into place and the force of her gales grew stronger.

The Wind became bitter and next turned her eye toward Second Street and the ongoing issue of the addition desired by the Presbyterian Church.

Regardless of promises made to the residents that "they have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their yards", The Wind, as it often does, changed directions, and an agreement was reached to grant the church everything it desired and more.

The aftermath of that decision can only be compared to that of Hurricane Andrew in nature. It left the city ripe for lawsuits Her image was tarnished from breaking pledges and a mockery was made of the city's prescribed charter process.

The Wind though, never ceasing, never ceasing, fired Derek Shackelford from the position of Youth Services Director. (She claims he was not fired. But his position was not funded in her new budget.)

It can be said that the position was possibly duplicated and so forth and so on but one question is being asked - even in the most polite circles.

Why isn't Jenita being painted with the same brush as her predecessor would most likely have been if he had fired two African-American men?

The Wind is blowing stronger and stronger while attempting to ensure that the City of Frederick acquire the Masonic Temple building for city offices.

What is amazing is how The Wind has thus far blown away criticism that this is indeed a continuation of practices done by the "good-old boys" in the previous administration that she claimed to so abhor during the campaign.

It seems to many that the only person who is benefiting from this transaction is the person who helped established Jenita in business and is currently her landlord, Carl Benna. He also contributed to her campaign for mayor through the corporation that rents the restaurant its space.

How can The Wind so effectively evade the charge that trading the Masonic Temple building that has a value of approximately $750,000, for a shopping center the city paid $2.2 million for (especially when previous studies show that it will take up to $6 million more for the city to make it usable), isn 't a perk to benefit her benefactor?

Especially after The Wind appointed Mr. Benna's woefully underqualifed daughter to the Frederick City Planning Commission?

But, as all perfect storms seem to do, The Wind can blow in many directions at once and during this, Jeannette Eleff, the city's public relation's officer fell victim to its severity.

Another hire that remained from the past administration, Ms. Eleff was blown forcefully out of city hall by Jenita after what some sources say were the most harsh circumstances imaginable.

Of course, at full hurricane strength, The Wind smashed into the budget process, intent on raising taxes.

Regardless of how it comes out (as many items have not received final approval although they are included in the budget) the methodology carried out by The Wind during this process were nothing but stunning.

The clearest example of the countless irregularities that abounded during the process is that it was said that the budget had been reduced so that there would only be 7 new police officers hired.

It was discovered, however, during a special meeting called by Alderman Bill Hall to review the budget in a more open and public manner than was currently being done, that the budget still contained the dollars needed to hire the 12 police officers that were originally requested.

No matter, The Wind still found ways to blow up your tax rates and cable rates through fees and increases she succeeded in getting approved.

The Wind, it was announced most recently, has again changed direction from her campaign pledges and swept away her plan to revamp the city's approach to economic development.

Many heard The Wind say that the best approach to economic development for Frederick would be to have someone working to develop downtown and someone working for the development of the Golden Mile, the airport area, and so on.

That did hot happen.

Without a word, The Wind silently blew her plans away, seemingly saying now that only one person is good enough to handle it all.

Another pledge blown out the window of City Hall.

The cold wind rages and many are getting caught in its path.

There is nothing really that man can do to stop The Wind. It must pass.

Unfortunately for Frederick, the residents have a long time to hold on and batten down the hatches until The Wind passes.

Pray you can stay out of her path.

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