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Letters to the Editor

May 12, 2009

Let's clean house



To the editor:

On May 19, Hagerstown residents will have an opportunity to vote for our next mayor and council. This vote will set the direction of our city for the next four years and beyond. I myself am for voting for some good people, Jonathan Burrs, Noel Brady, Bill Breichner, Forrest Easton, David Lidz and Patrick Crist.

I also find myself voting against the last four years and for a clean, fresh start in the City of Hagerstown. Many people rejoiced when the three women on the city council lost in the primaries. Many people have also acted as if the job of cleaning up City Hall was finished.

I disagree, regardless of the behavior of the three soon-to-be-former council members. Our mayor and other council members are equally to blame for the problems of the last few years. See, in my opinion, when you allow bad behavior to exist and do not speak up or put a stop to it, you are just as guilty as the person committing the behavior is.

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Mayor Bruchey recently was quoted in The Herald-Mail saying, he "didn't want to bang the gavel and limit their chances to speak." What he failed to realize then and apparently now is that many times that behavior by members council interfered with the rights of the citizens who were trying to speak or have their opinions heard. He also apparently does not realize it is his job as mayor and the chair of those meetings to maintain decorum and order in those meetings so that everyone will have the chance to be heard.

On the subject of meetings, this council and this mayor have met behind closed doors very often. One of those meetings last year involved two developers and their plans for Hagerstown. This mayor and council felt that we as citizens did not have the right to hear or know what was being said.

When confronted with some improprieties of that meeting, Mayor Bruchey denied in The Herald-Mail online forums that any violations of the Maryland Open Meeting Act existed. The mayor did admit there were "technical issues" with the meeting - his definition not mine. He went on to state that "unless you have an Attorney General's opinion on this issue there is no violation of the Open Meetings Act." Mr. Mayor, the law is the law and you should not need a ruling to tell you right from wrong.

Councilman Brubaker and Metzner also have their issues as well. For Councilman Metzner I ask: Why, during the numerous ethics issues of the last four years, did you chose to act and speak of ethics as if they were no big deal? People in Hagerstown were concerned and expressed that concern and hoped for an investigation, and yet you did not call for one or even suggest that one happen in those cases.

Ethics are paramount for good government and I want people in office who will step up and make the hard decisions even if it embarrasses their fellow politicians. You also participated in the council's bad behavior and displayed your own share of theatrics when you walked out on Paul Muldowney during a council session.

Councilman Brubaker, you sided with Nigh, McBean and Cromer and voted against nonpartisan elections. Why? It would have cost the city nothing in money, it would have allowed every registered voter to vote in the primary and general election, it would have allowed every eligible person to run for office and would have sent the best people forward to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

You instead chose to side with the forces of exclusion, and for that, sir, I cannot forgive you or support you. Everyone deserves to be included in the electoral process at every level for the benefit of our city.

I ask you the voters to think about the things I have mentioned. Do you want more of the last four years? Ask yourself, are we ready and willing to change how this city is operated or are we doomed to four more years of the same old games? I urge you and beg of you to vote on May 19 and let's sweep the last sad remnants of these four years out of office and out of City Hall.

Tony Campello
Hagerstown




Haywood for council



To the editor:

Ashley Haywood is astute, astonishing and accessible. That is a description of Ashley Haywood, candidate for Hagerstown City Council. She gets an A+ for standing up for our town.

Women at the Table routinely interviews new female candidates for local public office in Washington County to determine whether to endorse or not. We then look for areas where we can help and support a candidate. There were former office holders and representatives from both political parties in the group who met with her.

The interview assessment was a collective, "Wow!" Haywood demonstrates a comprehension of serving the community as an elected officer that is far beyond what could be considered "newcomer" perspective. She obviously has studied the issues and the needs of the city. She clearly recognizes the need for respect and collegial cooperation with elected colleagues, both on the council and in the greater community.

Most astonishing was her technical grasp of certain issues. She understands zoning and can peel off, in quick commentary, the differences from zone to zone. She can identify the challenges citizens face in meeting zoning rules and code enforcement regulations. She has been diligently attending council sessions, giving her an informed handle on current issues. She has also met with city department heads for the follow up details and to get a "head up" on developing issues.

As to accessibility, for those of you who will find it easy to drop by her coffee shop to discuss city issues once she is elected, we offer one reminder. While there, be sure to purchase a cup of coffee and a sandwich. She is a small business person operating in downtown Hagerstown and time is money!

Individually and collectively, we support this energetic candidate who has more than a passing interest in the details of the work ahead.

Nancy Boyer
Linda Irvin-Craig
Dori Nipps
WATT members

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