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The Tentacle


October 13, 2009

No to County Commissioners

Roy Meachum

Kai Hagen and John L. “Lennie” Thompson cannot count on me; I will not sign the petition putting on the ballot the question of annexing three properties. And the same answer goes to the other commissioners.

 

The Frederick County board unanimously voted against the city wish to take over the farms that butt on its northern and southern borders. Their defined duties empower the five not to interfere in how Frederick City governs itself. It’s bad enough that city residents pay more in property taxes to Winchester Hall than to City Hall.

 

The leading pair, Commissioners Thompson and Hagen, sicken me with their expressions of concern for city residents. Most of all am I struck with their paternal tone. It would be bad, both insist, if the southern properties pass into City Hall’s hands before developers assure their share of public costs in advance. There are enough municipal regulators and regulations that the mayor and board can apply to cripple financially any project.

 

Furthermore, what kind of business executives are the public officials to demand unlimited payments for improvements? What kind of foolish saps do they take developers for? The way the situation really works involves negotiation at each stage; that’s the American way, I would remind them. Handing over a signed blank check strikes me as the way dictators run their nations: Give them the money and they will decide what you may have. Horse feathers!

 

In my head and heart, I know the city needs space to grow. For the 26 years I’ve lived here, Frederick has doubled the number of its residents. Under the proposed annexation, people who buy in the new municipal properties will shore up the tax rolls; their sewer and water payments may not reduce the bills we are now getting, but they will slow down rising costs to you and me.

 

As for the commissioners, “Lennie” Thompson has never met a proposed new idea that he didn’t reject; the other mouth against annexing the properties belongs to Kai Hagen, a man who has devoted his public life to whatever the noisiest citizen apparently wants. Both officials are into populist politics from totally different perspectives. Mr. Thompson belongs to the no-growth segment, while Mr. Hagen supports any emotional issue before the board; he seems to feel passion counts more than reasoning. Their three colleagues went along for what looks from here to be selfish interests. Why allow the city to annex properties that might prove to be an important part of balancing the budget?

 

The subtext that rides along: If Frederick deems them important enough to fight our bureaucratic – almost imperial – will, maybe we should oppose on the basis that we need time to reexamine our options. The county’s big difficulty with the annexation is that once it takes place, the problems and possible prizes will not belong to them but to City Hall.

 

Will someone consider how to rumble Winchester Hall, distracting the county minds away from what should be singularly city business? The commissioners seem to have a sick fascination with something they cannot control. The election deadline for signatures to send this issue to referendum is next Sunday and is strictly for Frederick City voters, nothing to do with them.

 



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