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Washington County needs a little less talk and a lot more action

February 20, 2013

The Washington County Commissioners have slapped a gag order on almost every county employee save for one designated spokeswoman, which is probably the smartest thing they have done since taking office, because, in the words of Vince Lombardi, no one knows “what the hell’s going on out here.”

True, this is not just a W.C. problem ... but my stars. You have the vice chairman of the Economic Development Commission barking at the Greater Hagerstown Committee for not including the EDC in a survey of downtown properties that could be used for a new school board office building, which is apparently moot now that the board is saying it will “listen to all proposals” on one hand, while clutching the old Allegheny Energy building like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic with the other, even as the city is trying to get a financial commitment out of the county to “do something” despite the fact that the list of potential “somethings” is shrinking daily.

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These somethings might or might not still include a new stadium, a plan that is looking pretty grim now that former Mayor Bob Bruchey — who staked his political life on the notion that everyone in Hagerstown loved the idea of $40 million baseball stadiums — has become in turn the Hagerstown Suns’ spokesperson, then interim general manager, and is on pace to be the Washington Nationals’ third base coach by opening day.

Elsewhere, everyone was meeting with everyone this week, for the express purpose of throwing around stupid buzzwords like “synergism” and “partnering” and “logistics.” Logistics. If I hear that word one more time, that’s it: The county doesn’t get to listen to any more UPS commercials.

But if it’s logistics they want, they might start by figuring out the chain of command at their own EDC, which is in the process of — I don’t know what. I don’t see how anyone at the EDC — what’s left of it — can claim to be annoyed at not being included by Greater Hagerstown when there’s barely anyone left there to include, except for maybe the cleaning lady and night watchman.

At least there are two jobs. The only other jobs appear to be in the demolition business, as half of the downtown is, at any given moment, either being torn down or on fire.

I don’t even blame the homeless for failing to understand that bathtubs make poor furnaces; I blame the outsiders who came to Hagerstown eight years ago looking to flip a few properties and make a killing, and instead they wind up paying a half million for a building that today the tax department can’t even move for 10 grand. Quick, call the city and county, since they always seem to be in the overpaying-for-dilapidated-buildings business.

No wonder the school board wants to pay for the old Allegheny Energy office building outside the city, although — and they want to be very clear about this — they are not buying it. Yeah buddy, better slap an option on that puppy; it’s only been sitting vacant for about a decade, someone might beat you to it.

The least the school board can do is dress up the county commissioners like Barbie dolls, as did the previous buyers from India, who made them wear chiffon saris as they announced their doomed plans for a university.

In retrospect, they were the smart ones. They vamoosed faster than you can say Indira Gandhi. One can only imagine that Calcutta looked mighty good after spending a week here, and witnessing our propensity to talk everything to death while doing absolutely, positively nada.

OK. Sorry about the above. Once a year I just have to get it off my chest.

It’s all good.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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