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Smithsburg Council meeting erupts

January 13, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SMITHSBURG - The Smithsburg Town Council meeting Tuesday night erupted in controversy as council members were talking about passing a town ethics law, an issue that has been simmering for months.

At one point, attorney Charles Wagaman raised his voice while talking to council member Jerome Martin and Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers slammed her gavel trying to gain control of the meeting.

Myers apologized about what happened to a group of Boy Scouts who attended the meeting.

"This is not the way town business should be run. This is not a normal reaction," Myers said.

A push to have a town ethics policy started last August after Myers cast a tie-breaking vote to reappoint her husband to the town's zoning appeals board, a post some council members said could pose a conflict of interest.

Tuesday night, council member Donnie Souders Jr. tried to make a motion to pass the county's ethics policy for the town.

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Wagaman said an ethics policy could not be acted on because the issue was not on Tuesday night's agenda.

As Wagaman and Martin debated the issue, Wagaman's voice grew loud and Wagaman said any action on such a law Tuesday would not stand up in court.

"I'm sorry I have to speak to you like this, but it's the only (way) you understand," Wagaman told Martin.

Myers expressed frustration about everyone "going behind everybody's back" to get information.

Souders said he thinks it's good for council members to research issues and there has been "no harm, no foul."

Martin and Myers also argued over the council's recent decision to have standardized contracts for businesses who deal with the town.

Myers told Martin that department heads in town came to her because they were confused about when standardized contracts should be used.

Martin said common sense should dictate to department heads when they need to use such contracts.

Martin made reference, for example, to changing light bulbs.

"I'm leaving," Wagaman said.

"Business is over," Myers said as she hit the gavel again to end the meeting.

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