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Commissioners stay silent after taking oath

December 17, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

My, but they forget fast, don't they? During the campaign, County Commissioner candidates couldn't line up fast enough to tell how us how, if elected, they wanted to expose the county's secret financial deal with former Economic Development Commission chief John Howard.

Now they are in office.

Now they each have a copy of the backroom agreement.

Now you can't get a peep out of them.

Jim can't recall what the issue is about anymore, Dori has a copy but she misplaced it - might be shuffled in with the grocery list or something, and J-Mun - who basically can credit his victory to the fact that he made the most noise about the injustice of the commissioners' secret spending of tax dollars - is afraid of being sued.

Best I can tell, he walked into the commissioners offices and the executives said "Here's a copy of the deal - tell anyone what it says and we'll see you in court."

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That must have scared Munson to death and sent him whimpering off into the night.

So much for standing up for the people of Washington County.

Of course, it's understandable that the commissioners would be afraid of being sued since they do so much suing themselves. When you are too unimaginative to solve problems without resorting to sissy lawsuits, pretty soon you become paranoid that everyone else is going to do the same to you.

And maybe we should.

The county is upset about sewer service. Fine. But here's something every city resident should be upset about. Hagerstown residents are not only paying for Hagerstown sewer service, they are also paying for the county's overbuilt-to-the-tune-of-$50-million sewer system.

The county is on target to spend something like $30 million of taxpayers' money to pay off its own sewer stupidity. If you use city sewer, you're still paying for county sewer service. If you live in the county but have a septic tank, you are still paying for county public sewer service.

Sounds like grounds for a lawsuit to me.

Were I a county resident, I might also be suing mad because the county is trying to block city annexation plans. That means county services like police protection will be spread more thinly than is necessary because the sheriff's department has to cover ground that might be more logically covered by city police. If I get robbed, I'm going to take them to court.

I would also sue if I were a baseball team owner because the commissioners took hotel tax money that the legislature targeted for a new stadium and handed it out all across the county.

If I were a hotel owner, I would also sue because my taxes were raised under false pretenses.

Call up Circuit Court and tell them to clear out the January docket 'cause I'm going to back up a truckload of briefs. As a matter of fact, I don't think the official Washington County insignia is all that attractive and it is causing me anguish.

But if any of the commissioners are feeling guilty about all this, there is an easy way to cleanse the conscience.

First, put on a pair of leather gloves. Then slip a copy of the Howard agreement in an unmarked manila envelope and send it to me c/o The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., 21740.

I'll happily print it. I'm not afraid of being sued - at least, not more than I already am on a normal daily basis.

I would have no way of knowing who leaked it and neither would all the lawsuit-happy people in the County Administration Building.

Wouldn't that make you feel better? Let me be the salve for your aching conscience.

However, it does occur to me now - too late - that some of the County Commissioners might have been a little more disposed to participate in my little scheme if I hadn't spent the last 18 inches of print being such a jerk at their expense.

I've really got to work on my people skills.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or you may e-mail him at

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