Last updateThu, 11 Jan 2018 7pm

How to Rule, When? That is the Question

This week, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners have put before the voters, a proposal for Code Home Rule.  They will hold a series of community meetings to gauge citizen reaction, afterwards, it will be decided, whether to place the question for Code Home Rule on the ballot in November.

Whatever side you are on concerning Code Home Rule, the issue can wait until after the fall

Arrogance and Stupidity Results in Legal Action against Hampstead Township

The owner of the Oakmont Green Golf Course in Hampstead obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against the Town of Hampstead in the Circuit Court for Carroll County this week. The lawsuit originates out of threatened efforts by the Town to exercise its power of eminent domain (condemnation) to take one of the golf course's private irrigation wells for use in the municipal water system.

Water Here, Water There, Water Almost Everywhere

One thing is clear, and it is not Carroll County's water supply. The drilling of the Springfield wells as the commissioners have done and abandoned has become the second greatest blunder this county has ever made, exceeded only to losing the land and water access rights to the Liberty Reservoir to Baltimore City.

Creating a sustainable water grid for the entire County must be a priority. Maintaining the status quo, building a patchwork of high yield wells just to catch up or supplement existing water sources, is just fool-hearty and shortsighted. Relying on high yield well water is not an option when surface water is readily available. Drilling high-yield wells between two viable above ground water sources, Liberty and Piney Run Reservoirs, and the available land set aside for the Gillis Falls and Union Mills Reservoirs makes no sense.

Not sharing with the public that the Springfield wells have shown signs of contamination is dishonest and dirty politics. Capping and sealing those wells secretly, as if they did not exist, only confirms the lack of open communication between government and the community it serves. The millions of dollars wasted on the project have yet to be revealed. The previous administration knew the water was contaminated and looked to Piney Run, this administration ignored the knowledge and went ahead full bore.

Ask any municipal town manager whether he would prefer his high yield well to surface water. Ask the town manager if he prays every night for water, for a morning cup of coffee. Question the town's wisdom in allowing smart growth to tax the town's municipal wells to the point of stress and failure. Alternatively, does the town manger care at all, or does he secretly, in the dark of night perform a rain dance ritual.

Westminster, having been effectively shut down until they can find adequate water for its current residents by the Maryland Department of the Environment, epitomizes all that is wrong with smart growth policies. Their 70 percent growth rate in recent years has caught up with them. They are now demanding the state allow them to continue to issue permits, as they need growth to pay for new water sources. Smart growth failures have placed them in the predicament in the first place. Their solution is not in high yield wells or a pipeline from a quarry, they could participate in a countywide plan.

The agreement they make with the county should include a lock on expansion, stopping all growth and annexation indefinitely. This should also go for the rest of the counties municipalities. The water they purchase from the county should only sustain its existing population. Mount Airy's demands to look outside their borders for water should be discouraged and stopped.

The county needs a water task force to mold new policy; a freeze on high yield well development is paramount, in the towns and in Carroll's environs. The task force should include Carroll's municipalities, but not led by them through the council of governments, which is self-serving. Carroll's major infrastructure problems are a direct result of the towns out of control growth policies. Specifically, schools, roads and security borne by county taxpayers must embolden the county to take the lead, to stave off any drain on county coffers to supplement the lack of proper planning by municipal leaders.

Not another dime of taxpayer money should be spent on well drilling, plant expansion or upgrades, at least not until the public approves a long-term plan that is both visionary and healthy for our local economy. Westminster's wake-up call should resonate around the county; smart growth is destroying the counties ambience.

A countywide plan is needed that will benefit all of Carroll's residents and provide water resources to all of its municipalities who sign a no growth agreement. It is the tool required to gain control of a municipality's unsustainable growth.

Augment Carroll's surface water potential with a rural legacy vision, Carroll can remain the last and best bit of open space in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

The future of Carroll County's prosperity lies in its surface water, not through commercial growth or land development, or the expansion of the residential tax base for municipalities. Let us be honest, economic growth in the county has lagged the region by 20 years, a fresh look and new leadership is long overdue.

Economic development for Carroll County 20-30 years down the road can be in its water reserves. A bottling company can sell a bottle of tap water for a buck or more from a municipal water source that cost less than a penny to produce. They could build a bottling plant here in Carroll; bottled water shipped worldwide, now that is economic growth.

Planners in the late 1960's saw the need for well-placed reservoirs throughout the county, Piney Run, Gillis Falls and Union Mills, all potential gold mines. They should be brought on line, its time to flood the land. Piney Run should be used as it was designed for, a viable water source, with reliable distribution. Carroll's vast open space creates opportunities to build more.

The choice of becoming a clone of our southern neighbors is tempting to some; the scenery to look out over water rather than the roof of a warehouse would produce the right climate for the county and its rural legacy. The lack of a polluting industrial and manufacturing base makes the county an ideal location for potable water production. The reserves can be sold to our neighboring counties and municipalities who no longer have the option to set aside land for water. Contamination is infecting ground water supplies around the region making wells a liability, the cost for filtering contaminated water is a cost consumers should not have to bear. The commissioners find this to be true from experience, in drilling and capping the Springfield wells.

There in lies the secret to Carroll's rural future. The county has opportunity in its wealth of open space and its ability to sustain surface water. Flood the lands and treat water as a commodity, it is the future, it can become Carroll's legacy.

Hypocrisy Rears its Ugly Head Again

The Sunday prior to the General Election, an editorial appeared in the Carroll County Times. It will unquestionably become the most dishonest editorial ever too appear in those pages. It certainly is not the first, nor will it be the last. It is nonetheless, a low point for a once proud and honest publication. The diatribe is undoubtedly, the most intellectually and morally bankrupt piece of garbage Lee has ever authored. Talk about your dirty politics, it epitomizes everything that is wrong with the media today.

Rather than tackle the many factually challenged comments made in the piece collectively, we will delve into every line. We will give it the Standard "View in Focus," pointing out the deliberate, dishonest and reprehensible behavior of the biased editor of the Carroll County Times.

It is unconscionable, that the directors at Landmark Communications (the parent company of the Times) condone the outright fabrication and dishonest information brokered within their publications.

The editorial, if it can be called that, was titled, "Politics past and present."

Albeit slightly dated, it needs a response; it clarifies the need for citizen skepticism. The removal of all back copies of the Times from library archives is of paramount importance. If researchers or students use any so-called "facts" from the pages of the Times, [Source material from the Times cannot be verified for accuracies or omission of facts. All source information is presumed to be pure conjecture.] A disclaimer refuting the editor and the papers content should be added to all research papers.

CCT: Carroll voters heading to the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 7) should remember the adage those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

CS: The editor of the Times is probably the worst place to go for a history lesson, but if you must, they do have integrity do they not? We are challenging the veracity of both the Times and its editor. The have sullied the reputations of too many, they have remained unchallenged far too long.

CCT: The state prosecutor on Thursday (Nov. 2) charged the newly reformed Carroll County Republican Club, President Scott Hollenbeck and Treasurer Suzanne Primoff with violating election laws.

CS: This little query is a statement that elucidates the intent of the Times, which is to sensationalize and exploit anything and anyone with whom they disagree politically. The Primoff's have been the recipient of the worst smear tactics the Times has ever offered towards an individual. Lee's almost daily assault on the Primoff's in 2002 election cycle was brutal and beyond the pale. Unfortunately, Lee's unrelenting, insidious remarks and statements went unchallenged. The Primoff's were never afforded equal time. The Times, under the Lee doctrine selects what to spew and who is not allowed to respond.

When former superintendent of schools was indicted and imprisoned, for child molestation--a close friend of the publisher of the Times at the time--the paper chose to give the former superintendent a pass. Very little was reported within the Times pages, with nary an editorial on the matter.

Recently, a known predator was allowed to revise a truth with a fantasy derived to elicit public sympathy for a lost cause. The paper, ignored protocol by exclusion of an editor's note, clarifying the writer's political position or lack thereof, and or any involvement in previous or pending litigation.

Candidates running in this election have sent many responses to the paper and its publisher for inaccuracies printed in the Times. Corrections or letters disputing assertions by Lee and others were never entertained or published. Readers of the Times newspaper are deprived of true public debate and discourse. They are focused one way.

CCT: At the center of the issue was a series of false and misleading ads that smeared incumbent County Commissioner Perry Jones, probably contributing to his loss in the primary.

CS: The ads that appeared in the Eagle and the Standard, robbed the Times of much needed revenue; therefore, the Times attacked the messenger, not in their ad pool and create a lie to justify a fallacious argument. They will never receive any advertising revenue from them anyway, why not demonize them.

The Center of the issue is clearly that the commissioners along with Susan Krebs could not counter the absolute facts in the ads, and they chose to create a fictional rationalization. Jones lost the race because he had nothing to give, except to play, ‘follow the leader.' The problem for Jones was that he followed the wrong road without objection, no matter how much it conflicted with his political and moral beliefs as a crossover politician.

CCT: Hollenbeck, Primoff and other's claiming allegiance to the club are innocent until they have their day in court, but voters need to remember the dirty politics that swirled around Carroll four years ago, and the people who were involved with that.

CS: This statement above all else is the most egregious and borders malice. The Times has again reached a new low. It was the Times, Jim Lee specifically, a PAC (RROCC) of questionable repute, and Julia Gouge who led the smear and leer campaigns against the Primoff's and the Central Committee, which Hollenbeck chaired. They were the perpetrators of the most outrageous and dishonest rhetoric ever visited on the county in recent history. They alone had the means and will through the Times newspapers, to destroy the reputation of honest law-abiding citizens.

CCT: Between 1998 and 2002 two county commissioners allowed rampant growth in Carroll while, more often than not, Commissioner Julia Gouge voted against their pro-growth agenda. As a result, the pro-growth contingent needed to get rid of Gouge, and set about trying to discredit her.

CS: This statement is an example of how an outright lie can blossom into a campaign strategy. The growth rate today in Carroll's environs is greater than in 1998-2002. Carroll County had until now, one of the lowest growth rates in the State.

Municipalities in the same period have had double-digit growth rates, burdening all areas of the county. Municipalities work under their own systems and are accountable only to their base. All of us pay for the tax burden of infrastructure, yet the town benefits from the newly acquired tax base, within the towns borders. The County resident has no recourse or say in town government. The towns have benefited from Gouge's silence in the matter. A new open government would deny them the continuation of annexation and future uncontrolled growth. Gouge was successful in her ability to redirect culpability onto opponents in the 2002 race, labeling everyone a "developer," or accusing others for being "in the developers pocket." Gouge is responsible for the uncontrolled growth in the county.

CCT: Using the county's three-member ethics commission, which included Suzanne Primoff, wife of then commissioner candidate Ed Primoff, they made all manner of accusations against Gouge while investigating an incident involving Gouge's daughter, a private citizen. Their own legal counsel told them it was illegal to investigate a private citizen, but they kept on until their actions were made public. Once exposed for acting illegally, they said they had uncovered additional questionable activities traced to Gouge and kept their investigation going.

CS: The ethics commission did not disclose any information. How would Lee know what transpired within the ethics investigation? Ethics investigations are held in closed sessions, and they stay that way until an accused or questioned individual is charged or becomes afraid enough to "leak" to the press. Suffice it to say, most reprimands or sanctions are held close to the vest. Whatever happens, the onus is on the employee or public official to share it with the public.

The commission was investigating a public official for using the Power of Office, to influence a benefit for a family member. No one knew anything, except the commission members and those inquired, until the information was leaked, falsely embellished to include the family member as the focus of an investigation. The Ethics Commission was ethically and legally doing its work, they were performing a cursory review of a private citizen's complaint against a public official. They never commented on the investigation. It was not in their purview, nor does it benefit them by prematurely releasing to the press any unfinished and ongoing queries.

CCT: The state prosecutor investigated all their allegations and found no wrongdoing. Gouge was innocent, the victim of a smear campaign.

CS: The exact wording in the prosecutor's report goes like this; "Viewing all of the evidence and inferences from the evidence, Gouge's participation in this matter has the appearance, if not the fact, of impropriety. Through her inquiries her name and position was used to influence a contract in which the county had an interest. She should not have involved herself in any manner concerning the extension, but her involvement does not amount to criminal conduct."  The Ethics Commission was onto something.

CCT: Because of the questionable activities surrounding the ethics commission, the new board of commissioners dissolved it immediately upon their election.

CS: The Ethics Commission was at the time, in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Who benefited from their removal? What information did they have to be dismissed out of hand? What shortcomings remain hidden? What did Gouge have to hide? The State prosecutor found, "...if not the fact, of impropriety." There was conduct that was questionable for any elected official, maybe not criminally, but there sure was ethically. A new commission was installed from a short list produced by Gouge. The new commission does not pick up where the old leave off. The work begins with a fresh slate, so to speak. Is it possible to ever now the truth? Gouge gets the prize for this one.

CCT: Ethics commission members protested, even filed a lawsuit. The court denied their claims.

CS: The members of the Ethics Commission did protest their firing. The ethics investigation was not disclosed, nor was it challenged by any court. The issue was whether the commissioners had the authority to disband an entire board without arbitration or appeal. The finding ruled in favor of the commissioners by statute. Any commission or board works at the commissioner's pleasure and can be terminated regardless of term. The same commissioner that was under scrutiny demanded the ethics panel resignations.

CCT: Today, the same names are back, along with some new ones, and they are continuing to use the same tactics they used prior to the 2002 election.

CS: They, as it should be defined here, include the sitting board of commissioners, the 9b Delegate, Krebs; the Freedom Area Citizens Council (FACC) and its most radical members; the Responsible Republicans of Carroll County (RROCC) and the Carroll County Times. Members of the RROCC have benefited politically and financially with their campaign rhetoric and false information. They had the venue (the Times), they had the means in the use of tax dollars, and they have in this election continued with the same old parlor tricks. The new faces are not so new, they are members of a Mt. Airy contingent working behind the scenes in 2002, and have been very active in this election. Their political positions are significantly tied, to this sitting board of commissioners. Whenever a private citizen or group of citizens come together and stand up for what is right, a political band of pirates have the ability and means to twist and squirm, to weasel and cajole, to protect and justify their hubris nature. With the aid of the Carroll County Times.

CCT: Those tactics already probably helped cost Jones his job as a county commissioner.

CS: Poor Perry again. Jones was aware of the actions and methods of the RROCC in 2002, as was Minnich and Gouge. Jones was justifiably rejected by voters. Jones wore his liberal propensities on his sleeve, not good in a conservative county. Minnich and Gouge would have suffered the same fate if voters had made a more informed decision at the polls in the primary.

CCT: On election day, voters need to remember the past in order to make an informed choice at the polls on what's best for Carroll's future.

CS: We agree, however we urge readers to diversify their reading habits and vet out the rhetoric from the reality. The past was revisited--almost--the difference this time, they were openly challenged.

" Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. "

-- Benjamin Franklin

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Your contribution is appreciated, if only a couple of bucks, the cost of countering the liberal media is arduous and costly.

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