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Trump unifies City Council

July 21, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

If you're late getting to the theater, it's no big deal. Just take your seat quietly and enjoy the show. Really, it's like missing the first five minutes of "Dr. Zhivago." It ain' no thang; this one's going to go on for a while.

I am speaking, of course, about the Hagerstown City Hall Follies, dutifully brought to you every week by Channel 6 television (Google "Hagerstown Channel 6" for schedules). The council meetings have always been interesting, but now with the election of Dick Trump as mayor, the entertainment value has risen considerably.

There seems at first blush to be a certain something about Trump that the five council candidates find distasteful. If I had to put my finger on exactly what they don't like about him in one word, I would characterize it as "everything."

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True, you expect some friction because he's a Republican, and they're Democrats, but in truth that's probably the closest these six come to common ground, in that they all belong to one political party or another.

And, thank goodness, this doesn't appear to be one of those Washington County Delegation situations where the elected officials sell each other out in private, but try to provide a "unified front" of good will and cooperation in public. Not that I am trying to start anything among members of the Washington County Delegation, obviously.

Nope, if you're looking for a Gandhi moment, look elsewhere. There will be no public healing. In fact, the potential for public freakouts is so great, Channel 6 is going to make "Fear Factor" look like "This Ole House."

Most recently, council member Kelly Cromer mixed it up on an Internet forum with one of the mayor's supporters who was critical of the three women on the council, saying "Just reading an article about the ladies giving Mayor Trump a lecture ... on respecting one another's feelings, I just had to laugh."

A couple of observations: No. 1, I suppose referring to them as "The Trumpettes" might make them angrier than referring to the duly elected female office holders as "The Ladies," but probably not by much. Second, making them sound like ruler-wielding schoolmarms in gingham dresses disciplining a problem child is unlikely to repair the damage caused by error No. 1.

For her part, Cromer - who, unlike many office holders we could name, has no problem commenting for the record when she has a point to be made - shot back that her issue was with "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."

And what was this little back-door deal of which the mayor is accused? Who cares? I'm sure it had something to with sewer, and consequently is entirely unfathomable. The point is, they're fighting like five sleep-deprived cobras and a tax-audited mongoose, which is all that matters.

There was some degree of disappointment in Trump's response when he didn't take the bait, only calling Cromer "a good council person."

Talk about a weak effort. A "good council person?" What, nothing like, "She's an adorable little puddin'" or "She's so cute when she's mad?" Frankly, we've come to expect more.

In fact, Trump was almost in danger of miraculously holding it together until right at the end of the interview with reporter Greg Simmons, when they mayor snapped "Get a life, buddy," and hung up. Ah, good to see he was able to inject one quick blast of irrationality, just to keep the pores open, so to speak.

And back-door deals aside, out-loonifyng this council will be no minor task. Keep in mind, the issue isn't that Trump did a bad thing for the city, it was just the way he went about not doing a bad thing. And good luck finding a consensus on this council. The membership breaks down in more ways than a compost heap. By priorities, by gender, by philosophy - you name it. You get two of them to agree on anything and you've got the second coming of Yalta.

Except they agree to disagree with Trump. So I guess, in a way, the mayor would be correct to write on his resume that he's a unifying factor. And for the whole city, in fact. We're all sitting here at the base of the wall like king's horses and king's men waiting for Trumpty Dumpty to have a great fall.

And if he has a great fall, that means the rest of us will have a great winter, spring and summer - so long as we stay tuned in to Channel 6.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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