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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


April 16, 2014

Pardon Me, I'd Like to Testify!

Patrick W. Allen

I am generally a fairly reclusive person, but after watching the Monrovia Town Center public hearings on the local government cable channel, I had no choice but to come out of hiding and speak my piece.

 

I was not surprised at what I encountered with the Frederick’s county attorney and the president of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners.

 

On Tuesday and Wednesday (April 8, 9), I was astonished at the amount of good ole boy syrup being smeared over the public hearing proceedings. Citizens, who actually give a damn and want their voices heard, versus county commissioners, who spend their time bloviating and playing Angry Birds on their smart phones.

 

But what really caught my attention during Wednesday night’s public hearing was the amount of deference the county commissioners gave to Rand Weinberg to control the meeting. This is the same Rand Weinberg, who personally represents Blaine Young, fellow Commissioner Kirby Delauter and the Monrovia Town Center applicant.

 

The Frederick Board of County Commissioners and the county attorney don’t see a conflict of interest here; but then again, this is Frederick County, Maryland.

 

Additionally, the commissioners continue to demonstrate a complete disregard for public hearings and the rules that govern participatory government meetings…i.e., something analogous to Robert’s Rules of Order. The Bylaws of other Frederick County governing and oversight bodies stipulate Robert’s Rules of Order as the framework under which they conduct their sworn responsibilities.

 

However, Robert’s Rules of Order seems to be a bit much for the commissioners to understand, perhaps too many big words; so the commissioners’ majority voting bloc has agreed that all public hearings will be conducted using Blaine’s Rules of Disorder.

 

At the end of Wednesday night’s meeting, it was stated that the “record was still open” [into Thursday], which would logically lead one to believe that testimony and cross-examination given during Wednesday night’s meeting was available for additional comment and/or challenge.

 

My wife and I arrived at Winchester Hall early enough to sign up to be one of the first speakers. However, we learned that there would be no sign up sheets for Thursday night’s public hearing. With this odd factoid in front of us, I decided to approach the county attorney and members of the Board of County Commissioners ahead of the meeting to request their indulgence in allowing me three minutes to provide testimony.

 

The first thing I learned was that the county attorney is not familiar with procedural rules for public hearings and had no idea what a Point of Inquiry from the floor meant. His position was…get ready…too bad, you missed your chance to testify last night. I asked for his indulgence to support my request for three minutes for testimony, but he was clear he had no indulgence to give.

 

So, I took my request directly to President Blaine Young…after the county attorney had already informed Mr. Young that I was in the room and what my intentions were.

 

I stood semi-privately in front of Mr. Young and requested three minutes at the beginning of Thursday’s public hearing to testify regarding information directly related to the previous night’s testimony and cross-examination. Mr. Young appeared to take a considerable pride in saying, “No, the testimony is closed. Thank you.”

 

I was not surprised by Mr. Young’s position, given that Mr. Young knows that I strongly believe his presence in county government is a blight on Frederick County.

 

If I had been given three minutes to testify, the following comments would have been entered into the record.

 

Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Notes & Comments: Submitted by Patrick Allen, Jefferson, Maryland

 

I would like to address procedural issues regarding these public hearings, citizen testimony and cross-examination.

 

**********

 

Mr. Weinberg represents himself as a legal expert and to that extent he was asked several questions requiring his legal opinion.

 

During last night’s cross-examination of the applicant, Mr. Weinberg refused to answer questions directed to him.

 

Under cross-examination, Mr. Weinberg does not have the privilege to selectively choose which questions he wants to answer and which questions he wants to disregard.

 

The Board of County Commissioners, and specifically you, Mr. Young, as the presiding officer, failed in your obligation and responsibility to compel Mr. Weinberg to answer the questions.

 

With the record still open, I would like, on behalf of the many citizens attending, to make a citizen motion that Mr. Weinberg be recalled to the witness chair and cross examined again by those who were denied his legal opinions the night before.

 

I would have said, Do I hear a second?…

All in favor raise your hand.

Those opposed?

 

Then followed with, Let the record reflect that…

The citizen motion has carried, or

Mr. Young has denied a citizen motion.

 

**********

 

Lastly, I would like to address the consistency with which citizens, in varying forms of comments, have expressed their opinion that the fix is in.

 

In an email conversation, dated March 4, 2013, with Commissioner Young, he wrote the following, “…the regional business community will keep their promise based on what I have done for them already”. [1]

 

I believe we all understand what these comments mean…those provided by citizens and those provided by Mr. Young in his email…that a majority voting bloc on the Board of County Commissioners continues to demonstrate that it has already made its decision and is simply running out the clock to get this behind them.

 

These Monrovia Town Center proceedings are all too familiar because it is not the first time this board has acted in this manner.

 

In February 2013, during a private meeting with Commissioner Young, he said, regarding the sale of Montevue/Citizens: “I’ve got a deal in hand. The deal is in the bag.” These comments were made four months prior to the June 25, 2013, public hearing and vote. [1]

 

So, Commissioner Young, if you believe these facts to be untrue, then you are obligated to state that for the record and immediately instruct the county attorney to open a perjury investigation.

 

Sources and References

[1] Ethics Complaint http://www.scribd.com/doc/207567447/FredCo-Ethics-Violations-Complaint

 

patrickwilliamallen@comcast.net

 



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