Letter to the Editor - July 28

July 28, 2011

Same old political song and dance in Maryland

To the editor:

Hancock had a great honor on July 23, and I bet most citizens didn’t even know. The 2011 Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee held the first of 12 statewide “town-hall-style” meetings right here in Hancock.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this committee, every 10 years following a U.S. Census each state is, by law, required to redraw congressional and legislative districts based on population shifts. In Maryland, the governor generally appoints an advisory committee to collect public feedback, and this committee in turn reports back to the governor and state legislature with recommendations.

Getting feedback from the public is great for Maryland. The political process — not so much.

Of the 12 cities chosen for a meeting, Hancock is the western-most town. No problem here. The towns chosen are dispersed fairly evenly throughout the state and Hancock is a good choice to represent the center of Western Maryland. The concern is the lack of notice the committee gave residents in this part of the state. Notice was emailed to the media on Wednesday morning (July 20). The Hancock News had already been printed for the week. The next opportunity for a public announcement to hit the local press was Thursday’s (July 21) Herald-Mail or Cumberland Times-News. And readers found out on Thursday that comments had to be submitted by email before noon the next day (July 22).  However, it turned out people could sign up to speak prior to the start of the meeting.  

The committee also met in Frederick later the same day.  The dates of the other 11 cities run until the middle of September.

To me, this appears to be Maryland politics as usual.  Is it possible that this committee, chosen by Gov. Martin O’Malley and comprised of mainly Democrats, gave such a short notice to suppress the turnout — and therefore voice — in a heavily Republican Western Maryland?

Wayne Keefer

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