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Ethical? It Depends On Who is Asking

In 2002, the County Commissioners, within days upon taking office, fired the three members of the Carroll County Ethics Commission. Very shortly thereafter a seven member board was installed, hand picked by the commissioners.

From that day forth, the commissioners had a board at their disposal, rubber-stamping appointees and hires, bereft with conflicts of interest. A few examples of conflicts of interest within the current administration may bear this out. The Carroll Standard convened its own Ethics board, using state guidelines and our own judgment as to what is unethical or should be.

Commissioner Perry Jones Jr., with no fixed address in Carroll County, uses a Union Bridge P.O. Box as a home address. Jones spends most if not all of his nights in Frederick City, driving a county owned car back and forth. Jones is not a full time resident of Carroll County, and must drop out of the commissioner race.

Commissioner Dean Minnich, uses the county taxpayer funded cable programming, that airs public meetings, to whine about his perceived injustices by the Annapolis Delegation to further his political agenda in Carroll. Nobody knows what his agenda is, the only thing he does is complain about how he is hampered by others. If nothing else, Minnich suffers from personal conflict, lashing out, without solutions or an original thought.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, Carroll's political socialite, spends more time traveling on the taxpayer's dime, than taking care of the people's business.

Gouge's relationship with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, (BMC) has sold Carroll's development rights to Baltimore City with the Liberty Watershed Agreement. South Carroll's water woes and outrageous user fees are directly related to this sell out. Her zeal in becoming a regional partner with surrounding counties is in conflict with why most residents live here. Resident's were not consulted, as to whether or not they want to be a regional partner.

Gouge's past personal relationship with a certain department head should be revealed, and we do not mean just being buds. After leaving Carroll in a past administration and returning from another county, the department head, with a new six-figure salary with as little as two years from retirement. The favoritism is too obvious to ignore.

Gouge's relationship with the Carroll County Times is obscene; Lee constantly touts her agenda and candidacy. The Times, which chooses to only print what Gouge wants, has avoided any negative press, allowing Gouge unfettered access with the papers limited circulation.

Jake Yingling, BZA head, owner of Regal Bank, and SBA lender, was involved in the sale of a building purchased by county taxpayers through the commissioners, at two times accessed value. Regal Bank held the note on the property. As an SBA lender, is Yingling in conflict when it comes to commercial property issues? Does a commercial landowner with an SBA loan get preferential treatment? We do not know but the conflict seems to be obvious.

Neil Ridgley, former Zoning Administrator and now Development and Planning Policy Coordinator for Carroll County, the most unqualified, uneducated nimrod to hold a policy position in the county. Everything Ridgley touches is a conflict to common sense and reality. Ask any of his numerous previous employers. We will not waste the ink.

Frank Johnson, former legislative liaison and now Mayor of Mount Airy, including a new position with county government as Senior Assistant County Attorney/Legislative Director. Where do we begin?

First, (the first this month) Johnson lied to Mount Airy voters, declaring that he was severing ties with the county to devote his time to Mount Airy, by vacating his liaison position with the county.  Within a month after the election, low and behold Johnson developed a position with the county doing the same thing he did when he quit, the title he now holds is just different. The county did not disclose his new salary. Both the Mount Airy and the county Ethics commissions, rubber stamped this obvious conflict. Heavily involved in Gouge's reelection campaign, Johnson's loyalty and position in the county is undoubtedly in conflict with his mayoral duties and the town's welfare.

Being the clever lawyer, Johnson has been quoted; in reference to his vacillation, he only said he would "...give up ‘that' position."

Dave Pyatt, council president and Johnson's new parrot, was quoted after the ethics committees warning. He does not see significant potential for ethical conflict, "if anything, Mr. Johnson's county position could work in the Town's favor."

As mayor and a member of the Municipal League, the Council of Governments and as county legislative director, Johnson has been cautioned to recuse himself from any possible impropriety, in relation to his town duties.

How is that possible, when all is said and done, which hat does he remove before putting on another one. Multi tasking is one thing but juggling is a whole other matter. The State Ethics Board is very clear on this point, which the county ethics board chose to ignore. In order to save space please read the following advisories from the state . http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/advisoryo/03.02.htm and http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/advisoryo/01.01.htm. Other related opinions are, 80-2, and 85-13. Clearly, the State's stand on the issue is apparent, and as a non-incorporated county, the state law supersedes the counties subjective view.

We cannot fathom why the county needs a liaison with Washington or Annapolis, which is the job of the elected board of commissioners.

When Johnson held the position previously as the legislative liaison, he worked mostly with one liberal delegate from 9b.

At some $60,000 plus a year, including expenses, for 90 days work, with one delegate, the county taxpayer, paid a lobbyist to baby-sit a legislator. It appears Johnson is broadening his personal horizons, at taxpayer expense.

Johnson, having left Montgomery County as a Democrat, now a Republican, appears poised to run for some higher office.

The Standard will reconvene our ethics board again soon, from the Chief of staff on down, the County is on notice, we are watching. We are also asking the Annapolis Delegation to convene an ethics probe into the inner sanctum of this administration.

" No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant. "

--George Washington

We could use your help!

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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