Hagerstown Councilman J. Wallace McClure is one of the most imaginative and committed people we've seen in city government in recent years. His "Pride and Groom" program to clean up the city's streets is just what the municipality needed, as was his call to young members of Hagerstown's black community to make their own history by running for elected office. McClure has also pushed the owners of rundown property to clean it up, and sought ideas on how other municipalities work by subscribing to their newspapers.
As we said, he's a committed city official with lots of imagination, all of which makes it that much more difficult to understand his stand on the secret meetings the council held to cut the city budget this year. Budget-cutting meetings traditionally take place during open session after the administrator presents council with a budget. But because of a projected $1.1 million deficit in the city's general fund, the mayor and council meet in secret eight times between Jan. 1 and March 31 to help City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman balance the budget.