In one of its few victories, if that's the word, some members of the Washington County legislative delegation helped derail an attempt to spread the cost of a new home for Hagerstown's Antietam Fire Co. among all Maryland taxpayers. So instead, if City Hall goes through with its current plans, we local taxpayers will be responsible for the cost all by ourselves.
This has to be a proud moment for our delegation: They get to posture for the masses about how fiscally responsible they are, even though it actually increases our own local tax burden.
In one of those "What were they thinking?" moments not seen since Jim Marshall ran a fumble recovery into the wrong end zone, Dels. LeRoy Myers and Andrew Serafini wrote a letter begging a legislative committee chair not to fund the firefighters.
What might have been a better course than this? Oh, I don't know, saying nothing maybe? As it turned out, Maryland didn't fund any firehouse requests this year, anyway. Or maybe a quiet word to the chairman in the hall?
But, no. Our lawmakers had to let everyone in Annapolis (and, I suppose more importantly, the voters back home) know how "principled" they were in their fight against government spending. And true, lots of people here will eat it up with a spoon. We showed those beltway bullies where to stuff their tax money. Except it's our tax money. And our local lawmakers don't want us to get any of it back to be spent on local projects.
And meanwhile, all the General Assembly is chuckling behind Myers' and Serafini's backs. Washington County lawmakers are perfect marks. You don't even have to beat them up to take their lunch money; they'll just hand it to you.
The dysfunction of this delegation is appalling, yet somehow fascinating. Del. John Donoghue, our lone resident Democrat, portrays himself as the finger in the dike of disaster. Without Donoghue, according to Donoghue, Washington County would be left at the side of the road begging for funding with a tin cup.
Maybe so, but it didn't work out for Antietam. So it might be helpful if Donoghue could expand upon this thesis, but he has a discouraging habit of failing to show up at any public forum to explain his side of the story.
Of course, none of them really needed to show up at this week's post-legislative forums; there was such a paucity of accomplishment on their part this session. They did nothing, so how long does it take to explain nothing?
But one never turns down a public stage.
Acting like a local reincarnation of "Grumpy Old Men," the delegation spent its time telling us what was wrong with our generation, our children's generation and our children's children's generation. Everything is going to hell in a handbasket, because no one in Annapolis will listen to them.
To the degree that they are correct, the blame lies mostly with lawmakers themselves for picking fights they can't win.
This windmill-tilting at illegal immigrants has drawn a hostile response from many lawmakers in and around the cities — places that, unlike Washington County, actually have an immigrant population to speak of, and where familiarity has diffused fear.
So there is very little statewide sympathy for any Washington County project or cause. This might explain the delegation's "we don't need no stinkin' badges" attitude toward any and all state help.
Knowing they can't win, they don't even bother to try.
The delegation refused to support a project for the C&O Canal, one of the county's best and most cost-effective attractions. And it even more actively fought the firefighters.
Despite Myers' claim that the delegation somehow secured funding this session for a State Police barracks that is already standing, this year might be notable as the first time in at least 20 years, and probably a lot longer, that Washington County received no new share of state bond money that's set aside for special, local projects.
Lawmakers can go on all they want about how they are holding the line on spending, but this political gamesmanship did not save the state one dime. It just meant that bond money that would have come our way went to other counties instead. And it means that the jobs that routinely go along with these projects went to other counties as well.
So the critical question coming out of this legislative session is this: If any people or agency in Washington County needs state money in the coming years for a project to improve our local quality of life, where do they turn?
They might go to one of our more effective, nonresident lawmakers, be it Allegany Republican George Edwards or Frederick Democrat Ron Young. They might go to the ever-expanding group of Washington County lobbyists and legislative surrogates who exist only because our elected representatives are so inept.
But even if an agency should try to sidestep the delegation, there is still the very real danger that one or more of our own lawmakers will get the itch to pick up a pen and write to those who control the purse strings saying, "Please don't give our county any money; we don't want it. It is blood money. We cannot afford it and we will not accept it."
When it comes to their own paychecks, of course, our lawmakers are far more pragmatic.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. His email address is email@example.com.