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Cromer blasts mayor on Internet

July 19, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

One day after a heated discussion between Hagerstown City Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer and Mayor Richard F. Trump over a disputed letter, Cromer wrote on an Internet forum last week that Trump was "lying to the public about what he did and why he did it."

Trump, reached by phone Monday, would not respond to the charge or say whether he believed it was appropriate.

"I have no comment," Trump said. "I think that (Cromer) ought to come to me. I don't think that we should mediate" the dispute in the newspaper. "I think she's a very good council person. I think she'll do a very good job."

Trump, asked about the circumstances surrounding Cromer's accusation, said, "I don't remember any of that," and said he had not read the meeting's minutes to refresh his memory.

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Cromer's accusation stems from a discussion that started last Tuesday during the City Council's work session.

Trump began the meeting by explaining he had taken steps to help Washington County Hospital in its moving plans by prompting a letter to be written to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

In the July 7 letter, City Water and Sewer Department Manager David Shindle asked for an exemption to new restrictions placed on the city due to violations at the city's sewage treatment plant.

The new restrictions limit the number of buildings that can connect to the city's sewer system in a single year and would prevent the hospital from being built if not lifted.

Trump said he had taken the steps with council approval. But at the meeting's end, Cromer said that was not true and questioned his trustworthiness. Trump apologized in front of the council and said he would be more clear in the future.

Council members reached Monday also said that Trump misspoke. The first time the council saw the letter was Tuesday, July 12 - five days after it was sent.

Cromer on Friday confirmed it was she who wrote the posting on the Web forum - hosted by The Herald-Mail's Web site - under the name "KCromer." She said her response was to an anonymous forum user, whom she said frequently posts inflammatory comments.

The user, known as "BMIC," last Wednesday wrote a response to a previous question about the television-worthiness of the council meetings.

BMIC, discussing the previous day's meeting, wrote in part: "Just reading an article about the ladies giving Mayor Trump a lecture on how awfully, terribly important it was to make sure they're all respecting one anothers' (sic) feelings, I just had to laugh!"

Cromer said she felt the need to respond. On Wednesday, she wrote:

"BMIC, it wasn't a lecture and it sure wasn't about anyones (sic) feelings. It was about the Mayor doing little back door deals behind the council's back and then lying to the public about what he did and why he did it. ...

"Everytime (sic) I find out he is doing a back door deal and then lying to the public about what he has done, I will expose it. I believe in governmental accountability and integrity, two words he know (sic) nothing about."

Cromer said her Internet posting accurately reflects the way she feels, and she has no regrets about the posting.

"He misled the public. ... If you mislead somebody, then ... that's not being honest," Cromer said. "I'm not going to say something ... that I wouldn't say in public. You're in public on there. ... If I was worried about what I had said, then I would have went there under a different name."

Cromer wouldn't comment on whether Trump has lost her trust, but asked how she felt Trump's action last Tuesday affects her future relationship with the mayor, she said, "That depends on him."

Asked Monday to discuss his apology in front of the council, Trump said, "I don't remember that, so I can't comment on it."

He also said, "I have no control over what they (council members) say. All I'm concerned about is getting the agenda through and (to) have better government. I can't control them."

Although Trump said last week that he had asked for the letter to be sent, on Monday he refused to discuss how the letter was sent, beyond basic details.

This week he said, "There was nothing secret about it," and said it was an oversight that the council did not get copies when the letter was sent.

"The staff was doing their job," Trump said.

Asked several times Monday if he was now saying that he didn't have a role in the letter's sending, Trump said, "I'm not going to answer these manipulative questions."

And to the reporter, he said, "Get a life, buddy. ... Good-bye," and hung up the phone.

The council is scheduled to take up a discussion on Washington County Hospital's proposed move during this afternoon's work session at City Hall.

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