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Democratic legislator accuses delegation chair of meddling in his district

In a text sent by John P. Donoghue, Andrew A. Serafini is told, 'Please focus on your districts and let me focus on mine'

February 20, 2013|KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, sent a text message Tuesday to a Republican legislator from Washington County, accusing him of meddling in his district.

Donoghue sent the text message at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday to Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, the chair of the county’s legislative delegation. He copied the message to Del. LeRoy Myers, R-Allegany/Washington, a reporter and to some other phone numbers.

In the text message, with the salutation “Hi Andy,” Donoghue wrote that he was “well aware of your efforts behind my back. You are looking for developers to come into my district for redevelopment.”

Donoghue’s legislative district, subdistrict 2C, includes the City of Hagerstown.

“I am trying really hard to do things for Hagerstown and I do not appreciate your interference … Please focus on your districts and let me focus on mine,” the text-message read.

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Donoghue said Wednesday he wasn’t told about or invited to a meeting that Del. Serafini and Del. Myers had with House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, in early December at which the legislative agenda for the Washington County delegation was discussed.

“Please don’t blind-side me,” Donoghue said Wednesday.

“What I’m trying to do is make sure that I’m doing the job I was sent down here to do. And I am trying to work with the mayor and council and do the best I can for downtown when it comes to securing funding for things, like I have in the past for the library and the university,” he said.

Serafini said he met with Busch as the chairman of the delegation.

“As chair of the delegation it is customary to go over a laundry list of the things we were asking for,” Serafini said. “I asked Del. Myers to come with me as the former chair of the delegation.”

Serafini said the meeting wasn’t specific to anyone’s district.

“Mr. (Del. Neil) Parrott was not invited, Mr. (Sen. Christopher) Shank was not invited …. no one else was invited,” he said.

Serafini said he and Myers also met in August with representatives of Sora Development, a real estate development firm. The group has pitched a public-private partnership to revitalize downtown and the city.

“It was just an informal thing … We had heard about them, and we wanted to meet them,” he said.

Their meeting came after Sora Development representatives met with the Greater Hagerstown Committee and representatives from Hagerstown, Serafini said.

“He (Donoghue) does a lot of stuff that he doesn’t include me (in) as the chair of the delegation. I don’t have a problem with that,” Serafini said.

Myers said he believed the statements in the text message were unfair.

“Hagerstown is his district and John is very territorial,” Myers said.

County leaders and downtown residents have sometimes reached out to the delegation to discuss issues, Myers said.

“The delegation is not John Donoghue,” he said.

A successful project in Hagerstown means as much to county residents as it does to a resident of the city, Myers said.

Serafini and Myers said it was difficult to contact Donoghue when they need to talk to him.

Emails sent to him sometimes bounce back because his voice mail mailbox is full, Serafini said.

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