Wednesday, December 26, 2012

History of Charter

Did you know Cecil County holds the record for the most attempts at passing Charter?  It took six tries because many were suspicious of giving so much power to a County Executive.  But, of course, there were those that were not going to give up their quest and on the last attempt creatively marketed Charter into a bait and switch of Code Home Rule.  The Friends of Charter claimed it would be cost neutral and more efficient.  However, many are already realizing they were deceived and are having second thoughts.  How could Charter get on the ballot despite Cecil County Citizens formally voting for Code Home Rule in a straw poll vote after the taxpayers paid $12,000 for an Alternative Government Forum?  To see how Charter was "pushed" through, I've put together the History of Charter below. 

  • Four alternative government forums were hosted by Victor Tervala who wrote Alternative Forms of Government in Maryland. Paid for by Cecil County Tax Payers ($12,000 +).  (Cecil Whig, 10/25/07) 
  • Straw vote at the last forum held in Elkton Administrative Building showed that the voters chose Code Home Rule over Charter.
  • (Cecil Whig, 12/12/07) (Cecil Whig, 2/4/08)
  • Commissioners ignore voters choice and vote for Charter Government.
  • (Cecil Whig, 3/5/08)
  • Commissioners reconsider Code Home Rule after public testimony.

  • (Cecil Whig, 4/30/08)
  • Commissioners honor vote 4 to 1 to put Code Home Rule back on the Ballot.

  • (Cecil Whig, 5/21/08)
  • Public hearing held on June 5, 2008 documents citizens support for Code Home Rule again.

  • (Cecil Whig, June 6, 2008)
  • 11th hour Code Home Rule effort fails.

  • (Cecil Whig, 8/6/08)
  • Board of County Commissioners decides in closed session to pursue Charter and the first mention of a Charter Board being appointed is when the names are voted on during an evening Commissioners meeting.  (Cecil Whig, 3/6/09)  (County Commissioner Meeting Minutes 3/3/09) 
  • Charter Board schedules meetings with citizen groups to promote. Citizens raise a number of concerns: Charter is a lot more expensive than the Charter Board claims because County Executive has a staff and concerns of balance of power between Legislative and County Executive.  Harford County is a good example of how Charter Rule promotes increased spending. (Aegis 7/25/12)
  • Chairman of the Charter Committee, Joyce Bowlesby criticized for funding Charter initiative with out-of-county developer funds, $12,000. Office of Economic Development chastised for participating in the fundraiser for the Charter Campaign.

  • (Someone Noticed, September 30, 2010) (Someone Noticed, October 20, 2010) (Someone Noticed, October 27, 2010)
  • Joyce Bowlesby makes claim Charter costs less than current form of government. Many citizens attending Charter informational forums critical of claim.

  • (Cecil Whig, April 9, 2010) 
  • County Government employees used to promote Charter (Cecil Whig, 6/24/09)
  • Newly elect County Executive Tari Moore switches her party affiliation to unaffiliated.  (Cecil Whig, December 3, 2012)
  • Sunday, December 2, 2012



    This is a great opportunity for Mike, Jim and I to finally get our message out about the voting record of Commissioners Moore and Hodge. The local media - especially the Guardian and Cecil Times - have continually misrepresented the truth. The insulation these two media outlets provided along with their foot soldiers, the Cecil County Patriots (who actually support special interests over tea party principles), have provided the political cover needed by Commissioners Moore and Hodge. Congressman Andy Harris along with Senator Jacobs have also interjected themselves into local politics to support this machine. David Williams of Williams Chevrolet chairs the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC that endorsed Commissioners Hodge, Moore and Alan McCarthy. Mr. Williams started attending county commissioner meetings around the time that hearings for Rose’s Diner (to become a drug treatment facility) began. Coincidently, the Williams Family already owns the Elkton Treatment Facility. David Williams is the brother of D’ette Devine, our superintendent of public schools. The Cecil Business Pac endorsed the purchase of the Basell Building, as well as the Chamber of Commerce that named CCPS large business of the year.

    Why did I get involved in County Politics over 20 years ago, become a founding member of the 21st Century Republican Club, organize the first two tea party protests in Cecil County, campaign for an elected school board, as well as host Drug Awareness forums and workshops? Because we don’t need more politicians selling out the county. We need more concerned citizens who have the best interests of Cecil County at heart.

    Cecil County Citizens and tax payers, you should be very concerned about the future direction of your County.

    Tari Moore’s move to renounce the Republican Party in order to hijack control of the new Cecil County Council insures special interests will now effectively control both the Executive and Council side of our new Charter form of government.  Where are the checks and balances if the County Executive controls both the Legislative and Executive side of government?  

    What does this mean? You only need to review Moore’s voting record for the two years that she’s served as a County Commissioner. Most of her votes were in unison with Commissioner Robert Hodge supporting special interests, while the other three Republican Commissioners voted on principles that supported fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability.

    - While the majority of Commissioners voted to adopt a tax rate below the constant yield for the first time in Cecil County History, Commissioners Moore and Hodge supported putting back $800,000 into the budget. You can listen to his explanation on the audio at 5:30 and on the final budget adoption audio at 22:50.

    - The majority of Commissioners voted to support increased ethics enforcement while Commissioners Moore and Hodge basically said more ethics doesn’t mean more honesty.

    - The majority of Commissioners voted to organize and challenge the State of Maryland’s mandate to adopt tier maps as well as WIP Plans by activating the Rural County Coalition and the Clean Chesapeake Coalition.  In contrast, Tari Moore sat on the MACo Executive Board, and testified in support with amendments for SB 236. Once the finalized version was drafted, she did not update nor seek feedback from the Board of County Commissioners, DPW and Planning and Zoning Directors on how the bill would impact Cecil County, thereby causing us to lose the ability to voice our concerns.

    - The majority of Commissioners supported funding capital projects in the priority funding area while Commissioners Moore and Hodge supported spending $4 million (Commissioner Hodge comments at 36:48) in areas not slated for growth that also happened to be near or adjacent to Commissioner Hodge's property.  While Commissioner Hodge recused himself on the vote, he did share his comments in support.

    - The majority of Commissioners successfully argued that a local propaganda newspaper, the Cecil Guardian, was not a newspaper of record (as noted on page 2 and 3) and therefore was not qualified to receive the hundreds of thousands of dollars from county government to print public notices while Commissioners Moore and Hodge supported giving the tax payer funded dollars to the Cecil Guardian for, in my opinion, political payback.

    - The majority of Commissioners supported a new clinic ordinance that adopted minimum standards for buffers and parking requirements, while Commissioners Hodge and Moore supported no more oversight in placement of clinics because in their view, it was not the way to do business in the county. They tried to circumvent the new ordinance by attempting to get an occupancy permit for the Drug Treatment Facility that was being proposed for Rose‘s Diner in Elkton.

    - The majority of Commissioners objected to Commissioner Hodge’s attempt (with Tari Moore’s support) to rezone a large parcel of his property from NAR to a more lucrative, developer friendly RR during a Comprehensive Rezoning. The majority of Commissioners demanded he follow the normal rezoning process for all seven of his personal comprehensive rezoning requests (which requires public notification to adjacent property owners).

    - Did Commissioner Hodge initiate the County lawsuit with the Town of North East (over out of town water and hookup rates) for personal reasons. Was it coincidence that the PSC Letter was sent 2 days after Commissioner Hodge was elected to office?  The fact remains that he went out his way to get one of the Commissioners to change his vote to pay for a 2nd expert witness and he did not recuse himself from any votes as a Commissioner regarding this lawsuit despite his property being affected and therefore, in my opinion, creating a conflict of interest. I am also concerned that the attorney hired to represent the County on this case, Larry Haislip, is also a campaign contributor to Commissioner Robert Hodge. It just seems that there is a pattern for Commissioner Hodge to use Cecil County as his personal piggy bank and Commissioner Moore has consistently voted to support him.

    - While the majority of Commissioners were fighting to break up unilateral Artesian control of our water and wastewater plants, Commissioners Moore and Hodge were fighting to preserve the original contract which would have put our County and our master plan for growth in peril because the monopoly would have been more focused on profit and building residential projects rather than implementing infrastructure in the growth corridor.

    - The majority of Commissioners objected to using fund balance
    to purchase the Basell Building
    for a School of Technology. They disputed the renovation as well as the operating costs that CCPS provided. Another reason for the objection was that it was not a true comparison of savings, as this was another School of Technology and not a Comprehensive High School. The school population has decreased since 2006, and the School Board has not presented to the Commissioners other viable options to accommodate the waiting list.

    - While the majority of Commissioners were fighting to keep our AVI decals for the Hatem Bridge and fighting the increase in tolls, Commissioner Hodge wanted to seek SHA road improvements in return for toll hikes.    He stated this at the bridge toll coordination meeting and also when he was interviewed by Reporter David Collins.  I told the reporter that the majority of Commissioners did not agree to this and the interview thankfully wasn't broadcast. The road deals were also included in Vernon Thompson's (Ec. Dev. Director at the time) speech he was planning to give at Perryville High School before the MdTA.   I also remember staying at that toll meeting close to midnight because Commissioner Hodge was the 3rd to the last speaker and I needed to make sure his testimony didn't include anything the Board hadn't already discussed.   He also sought advice from Mary Halsey, CEO of Cecil Bank, on how to fight the toll hikes. He thought it was a good idea to get a board member of the MdTA to advise us but the only problem was, she voted to increase the tolls and she's from Cecil County!

    - The majority of County Commissioners voted to request that Vernon Thompson resign as Economic Development Director of Cecil County while Commissioners Moore and Hodge fought to preserve his position.  This was even after it was revealed that Vernon Thompson tried to sabotage the funding for the Upper Shore Regional Council in direct insubordination of the Board of County Commissioners.  I shared this information with Commissioners Hodge and Moore as well as the media after information verified through DBED was shared with Commissioner Mullin and myself. 

    - The majority of Commissioners supported improving animal control in the County while Commissioners Hodge and Moore attempted to subvert the new changes to animal care and control by stonewalling with excuses of needing more time, data to research as well as even more public hearings after 3 years!  Nancy Schwerzler (previous President of the SPCA during their negative publicity) started a public blog, Cecil Times, that also provides political cover for Commissioners Hodge and Moore.

    - The Enhanced Use Lease Project by Help USA (organization founded by Andrew Cuomo) is fighting to get project based vouchers to fund their housing project at Perrypoint which would not benefit our veterans. Despite both local and county government sharing their many areas of concern, Dr. Hameline continues to provide the perception that everyone is in support. Our concern has been documented and it includes increased public services generated due to the population they are targeting with no compensation. We have requested Congressman Harris to intervene. His response is that he will intervene when it is “appropriate”. Commissioner Hodge called me personally to ask what my objection was to this project and this was after the Board of County Commissioners agreed on how to proceed.

    - Finally, the majority of Commissioners' campaign funding was primarily grass roots while the majority of Tari Moore’s and Robert Hodge’s were funded by special interest. Mr. Hodge was part of a business slate endorsed by Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government which raised over $40,000.  Their mailers included the slate of Moore, Hodge, McCarthy and Judges Cairns and Baynes.  You can also review their individual campaign reports at Maryland Campaign Finance . Who do you think they will represent when they get unilateral control of the county?