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Come on voters! Stop taking away my good material

March 16, 2009

So I go away for a week and look what happens. You guys boot out three-fifths of the Hagerstown City Council.

Why?

Was there some problem with this particular council of which I was unaware? I can't imagine what that would have been. All right, there might have been a few misunderstandings from time to time: "Not all Section 8 people are bad, but three-fourths of them are"; "Do you know who I am?"; "Since when does a motor vehicle need to be registered in the State of Maryland?"

But it wasn't anything that would lead you to believe that a person wasn't capable of holding representative public office in Hagerstown, key word "representative."

March is National Women's History Month, and what do we do? Celebrate by going out and showing our three female council members the door. Hagerstown must have thought this was National Women Are History Month.

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In the end, though, television probably sealed the deal. Those unfortunate, recurring episodes of the Tourette's City Council came to resemble a British sitcom's interpretation of C-Span. You give this group Cockney accents and the BBC would pay a fortune for the rights.

I just hope all you scofflaws in public service who drive city cars home at night are happy. Looks like you win this round. It shows how fast politics can change: One minute you have your teeth into a simplistic issue that resonates with the public and you're on top of the world. Then one routine traffic stop later and you have fewer votes than an ear of corn has kernels.

And speaking of numbers, I confess to having a soft spot for the Hagerstown "voter turnout is not a problem" primary elections. Where else can you get one vote for every 70 people who live in the city -- and win? Get 20 votes and you're really encouraged about the outcome and look at it as a building block for future campaigns.

I haven't heard too many people complaining about the results, though, with one exception. The happiest guy has to be Mayor Bob "This Council Does Not Represent Me" Bruchey. The unhappiest guy has to be me.

Yes, I am the biggest loser in all this, and it is a continuation of a disturbing trend. I keep losing all my best players in government. Herman Bartlett, John Munson, and now Penny and Kelly.

My roster for an all-government fantasy team has taken another serious hit. This is like your rotisserie baseball team losing Albert Pujols and C.C. Sabathia to injury in the first week of the season. I'm not sure I can recover.

Really, if I have to go to my bench and plug in Bill Breichner for Kelly Cromer, it's just not going to be the same. Look, for all I know, in private life he might be known as "Par-tay Bill," but put him in a televised government meeting and Breichner will give me about as much material as a refrigerator door. This is a terrible situation for all you people who hate it when I have to fall back on pets for column fodder.

The other sad thing is that my viewership of City Council meetings really flagged of late. It's probably been a couple of years since I've been entertained by one. It's like if you live in Washington, D.C., and you never go to the Smithsonian because, you know, it will always be there for you. Then one day you're transferred to Seattle.

Sometimes you just don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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