Is a radio show a meeting?

Complaints sent Tuesday to the state's Open Meetings Compliance Board raise that question and others.

Former Frederick County planning commissioner Catherine Forrence and Washington County resident Kimberly Mellon called for the board to investigate the appearance of three county commissioners on a WFMD radio show.

Commissioners Billy Shreve and Paul Smith were guests Saturday on "Frederick's Forum" discussing the proposed sale of the county-owned Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living Facility.

When Commissioner Kirby Delauter called in to the show, Forrence and Mellon said, the conversation met the requirements of a quorum and therefore required the commissioners to give the public prior notice of the meeting.

“I think having a quorum of a public body discussing this issue, which you know is critical to the county, violates the open meetings act,” Forrence said.

Forrence opposes selling the facilities, she said.

The Open Meetings Act stipulates that conference calls can be considered public meetings if they "convene a quorum of a public body for the consideration or transaction of public business."

County Attorney John Mathias disagreed with the notion that the commissioners' participation in the show constituted a meeting under Maryland law.

“It's hard to see how three commissioners appearing on a radio show would violate the Open Meetings Act,” he said, “It seems bizarre that this effort to have an open, transparent communication with the public at large would violate open meeting law.”

If the county received an open meetings complaint, they would respond accordingly, he said.

The purpose of the show was to answer questions, Smith said. He did not think Delauter's call violated open meeting law because they were not setting policy.

“If I had thought it was, I would have said, 'hey, that's Kirby — don't take the call,'” he said.

Delauter said he joined the conversation to correct a statement regarding the finances of the facilities.

“There was no policy discussed," he said.

Mellon's letter states that Shreve, speaking on behalf of the board, announced "a plan" to create a county-funded reverse mortgage program to facilitate caring for seniors in their homes until death.

Shreve's comments were not board policy, Smith said.

“It was his statement, it was not a board statement,” he said, reiterating that the two were there to answer questions and not to vote on anything.

The public should have been made aware of the radio appearance, Mellon wrote, because new details of the proposed sale were discussed, including cost of care, plans linking the proceeds of the sale of the homes to the county land trust, environmental hazards and subcontractor performance.

“All of this information should be part of the public record,” Forrence said.

Delauter said no new information was made public on the radio show. Instead, it was the commissioners giving their opinions on the sale.

Shreve dismissed the complaints as frivolous.

“There are so many bogus claims come up like this where people are trying to do whatever they can to cause problems,” he said.

The Open Meetings Compliance Board was unable to confirm Tuesday that it had received the complaints. The three-member independent board is appointed by the governor and receives staff support from the state attorney general's office.

A public meeting on the proposed Citizen/Montevue sale is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 25 at Frederick Community College's Jack B. Kussmaul Theater.

Forrence was concerned that the compliance board would not have time to investigate before a June 25 public meeting on the sale, but said she hoped an investigation would encourage "self-reflection" about transparency among the commissioners.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.

If you go

What: Public meeting on the proposed Citizen/Montevue sale

When: 6 p.m. June 25

Where: Frederick Community College's Jack B. Kussmaul Theater

(50) comments

watson4sherlock

During the radio show, the commissioners complain that it costs $108,000 per year per resident for care. In Maryland median cost of one year of nursing home care in a semi-private room is $91,250.

See https://www.genworth.com/dam/Americas/US/PDFs/Consumer/corporate/ 130568_032213_Cost%20of%20Care_Final_nonsecure.pdf

watson4sherlock

Frederick's Forum -- Pattee Brown
June 15, 2013 Hour 1 and 2
http://www.wfmd.com/pages/PBFF.html

newtofc

[sneaky]Blaine[angry]Kirby[cool]Billy[unsure]Paul[sad]David

newtofc

Let the four of them get on Blaines show and babble at each other for the next 1 1/2 years. Just don't let them do any more damage to the old and sick; and to kids and to poor people and to any more of the down and out.

KellyAlzan

On the brigh side - Ba'Lanes campaign dollars don't have voter ID cards. He's self destructed and he's hurt anyone affiliated with him.

His political days in Frederick are over soon.

NASCARLOVER

Bottom line, my friend, is that the BoCC has themselves wrapped up in themselves, and the mere suggestion of stepping away from his radio show, and I use that term apologetically to those that do have a real, bonifide connection to the radio media industry.

So, bottom line is he will just say NO, and stomp off with the other one.[wink]

darththevader

Did you even read the article? Or do you just read the lunatic posts from others that didn't/can't read?

frederickcountymaryland

Darth, lunatic posts? Are the lunatics in your head? I can't think of anything to say except...I think it's marvelous! HaHaHa!

ButterBean

Seriously, "Darthevader?" Why the insults? Why would you write this to someone? Why insinuate that someone can't read? That's not only a mean comment, but your post is ridiculous and doesn't even make sense. Next thing, you'll be quoting Pee Wee Herman, "I know you are but what am I?"

There's no reason to insult someone just because you disagree.

NASCARLOVER

"Dude"???

ButterBean

If I was fortunate to have a radio show, and then I was even more fortunate to become a county commissioner and even more fortunate still to become its president, I would certainly hope that I would have the common sense to give up said radio show. How is it that Blaine Young still conducts that at radio program when even he must see that it just looks bad. The truth is, if he didn't have that show, this conversation wouldn't be happening.

Oh I know that he's still just a child and would say things like, "why should I give it up?" But honestly, why not just shelve it for awhile? Does he honestly believe it serves the greater good? Or is it more likely that he enjoys the sound of his own voice?

When one steps back and looks at it, it is astounding that the president of the county commissions is a radio talks show "host" that discusses political issues. Think about it.

darththevader

Dude, this wasn't even Blaine's show. I don't even see him mentioned in the article. So what are you talking about?

ButterBean

Of course it was Blaine's show. And if it wasn't, then that just proves the point. He's got no business on the air as a public servant. Perception is reality, as they say.

dbjanda1

Darth---The difference as you say is the 'going over the deep crowd' has moral and ethical standards...Can that be said of the current BoCC to NOT be bought ???...Me

elymus43

I have not heard much lately about "YOUNG FOR GOVERNOR" campaign. With the deadline for filing for the County Executive position nearing, could he make a move for that position???????

ButterBean

I cannot think of anything that will keep Young from making a bid for that position, short of an absolute apocalypse.

Comment deleted.
darththevader

Ummm..who's DarthBlaine?

darththevader

There's some pretty funny comments from the going-over-the-deep-end crowd :-)

sej58

Blaine has bought so much filth into Winchester Hall that the building will have to be decontaminated but he leaves and/or is voted out!

Sunsetblues48

I so regret voting for Darthboy and his three stooges.

frederickcountymaryland

Let me get this straight. Questioning actions of the BOCC and Maryland law boils down to "causing problems"? "Shreve dismissed the complaints as frivolous.
“There are so many bogus claims come up like this where people are trying to do whatever they can to cause problems,” he said."

tac_east

Not what I said archtraveler. Mr Young has created such an atmosphere of deceipt and mistrust its just impossible to take anyone seriously in the comments section who supports anything he does. Please show me other places in America where the highest ranking county official parades around commenting on news articles he doesn't agree with under an anonymous handle? P-L-E-A-S-E! It doesn't kill me in any way if folks agree with a particular proposal... I simply don't feel Mr. Young has the ethics or moral compass to be involved in making any decisions given his previous record regarding women, teenage christian basketball referees, the stunt with trying to privatize the county employees, now this Montevue thing, plus all the money he gets fromn out-of-state developers, the recent incredulous ethics question of Grey's wife doing taxes for a nonprofit, that BS letter he sent hte mayor and board recently, the stunt of sending out that $100 refund check (how much did that cost the county anyway?).... the negative drama just goes on and on and on. The entire BOCC is tainted by him. No way to govern. Total lack of leadership. That's all I'm saying.

archtraveler

So, tac-east, simply because you and a handful of others on here oppose what the BoCC is trying to do, anyone in favor is automatically a shill? It just kills all of you to think there may be a large segment of the county who actually thinks this is an attractive solution.

rpkrauss

If that's the case let's put it to a referendum and let the majority decide

rbtdt5

The majority did decide.

tac_east

As much as I want to appreciate that sentiment chesapeakecountry... given the recent revelations that in addition to stalking the comments here, Blaine also pays people to post favorably for him, or to disuade others from taking issue with his positions, you could very well be one of his shills. Blaine has helped foster such an atmosphere of mistrust over nearly every initiative of this board of elected officials, that everything now seems suspect. Very sad. This is not governance, it's spectacle. Young does not exhibit leadership, he promotes divisiveness and theatrics at the expense of the public good.

chesapeakecountry

Wow. That's a lot of serious accusations. Where do you get your information from? I find what you write very hard to believe. Present some evidence please and I will change my mind.

chesapeakecountry

This is nothing but grasping at straws to draw attention to one's self. Why do they want to suppress our commissioners from explaining their positions on important matters to the greater public at large? I want to hear the pros and cons from both sides before I decide on an issue.

Thomask

This guys have no ethics or moral compass, so why is anything they do surprising?
The election can't come soon enough.

dadadata

...
County Attorney John Mathias disagreed with the notion that the commissioners' participation in the show constituted a meeting under Maryland law.

“It's hard to see how three commissioners appearing on a radio show would violate the Open Meetings Act,” he said, “It seems bizarre that this effort to have an open, transparent communication with the public at large would violate open meeting law.”
...

In my experience, state and county attorneys are the first ones to come out with fanciful interpretations of the Open Meetings Act's plain language.

The first test in the law is whether a quorum is present and capable of interacting (essentially) in real time.

Check.

The second is if the discussion involves public business. (No action is necessary to turn it into a meeting, only discussion of public business).

And once a quorum is present, there is nothing to stop them from making a decision (formal motion and vote not required). A talk-radio vote would be amusing to have happen.

Furthermore, if they are talking about policy matters, and trying to "sell" the public on a policy, that's public business. Quorum + public business = Meeting

If they are talking about legislation that has been proposed, that's public business. Quorum + public business = Meeting


If they are talking about zoning matters, that's public business. Quorum + public business = Meeting


The only exception is for "social gatherings," and clearly a radio talk show is NOT a social occasion. Awards banquets and such are social occasions. And even there, the second a quorum begins talking public business at the dinner table, an illegal secret meeting has begun.

Social gatherings can also include political party meetings, by the way.

I leave it to the interested citizen to find the Open Meetings Compliance Board rulings on these subjects. I can guarantee you they've dealt with several flavors of "but it was a Social Event!" excuse.

Opinions: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/Openmeetings/board.htm

Index: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/Openmeetings/AppF.pdf

See my occasional blog Maryland Transparency & Accountability, http://md-ta.blogspot.com.

Time permitting, perhaps a few of these issues will come up as new posts.

MCEDDE21

Early in her 10 AM segment, Pattee Brown announced that Kirby Delauter was on hold. She noted Delauter's participation (by listening in) at least once more before putting him on air. Midway through the second hour (at 10:36 AM) Delauter came on to say he'd been on hold for two hours. He went on to discuss the "failings" of the current Montevue Board and management, particularly with regard to Medicare and Medicaid billings. He concluded his statement by saying he was, "leaning heavily towards privatization... (That way) The problem is gone."

Ms. Brown insisted that such problems could be fixed by a simple change of management rather than a sale. She pointed out that the BoCC should have known of the problems all along and thus, shared responsibility for them. In his retort, Delauter excused himself and the others saying, "We've only been there for two and a half years..."(!)

dbjanda1

The county agency holding the 'reverse mortgage' also has influence over the 'at home care' of the resident has a direct conflict...What would be the purpose of giving the BEST care to an individual if the same county benefits by gaining the assets after death ???...Shreve, are you willing to sign up for this program along with your other pro-business commissioners ???...What about renters or sub-leasees ???...Just askin'...Me

patrick

So, let me see if I get this correct ...

The FNP reports on a "letter" regarding unethical, if not illegal, conduct by one or more members of the Frederick County BOCC.

but...

The FNP does not report on unethical, if not illegal, conduct by one or more members of the Frederick County BOCC when the FNP staff is provided physical artifacts and evidence.

It's been over three weeks and the FNP is taking a "slow walk" or "no walk" position regarding documented wrongdoing by Blaine Young. Perhaps I should have put the word basketball in the report and FNP would have published on the front page, above the fold.

FNP is breaking its public trust responsibility and obligation by sitting on this. Get the facts...

Report : Inside The Right-Wing Inner Circle
Addendum : Inside The Right-Wing Inner Circle - Part II
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Links to each PDF document are:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/146606790/Inside-the-Right-Wing-Inner-Circle
http://www.scribd.com/doc/148105797/Inside-the-Right-Wing-Inner-Circle-Part-II

http://www.scribd.com/patrick_w_allen/documents

squibmyer

Was wondering when this was going to come up. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about it either Patrick. I think I heard a few minutes on Bob Miller's show a day or two after you released it, but nothing really since then (I don't regularly listen to Pattee Brown's show, so not sure if it's been mentioned there or not).

squibmyer

And can't wait to read part two.

jthompson

A difficult situation to analyze since the Open Meetings Act predates, by several decades, political talk radio. The Open Meetings Act has many exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions. Not every gathering of a quorum of a public body constitutes a meeting and not every unannounced meeting constitutes a violation. When challenged, there is a presumption that the public body complied with the Open Meetings Act. Unless the 3 Commissioners involved knew ahead of time that Commissioner Delauter was going to call in, the Open Meetings Compliance Board is unlikely to find a violation.

mllposey

Lennie is correct on this. Plus it was another slow news day in Frederick County so they published the little story about Catherine and Kimberly complaining again...

NASCARLOVER

If it looks like a duck....

japorciento

Imagine the pride beaming down from Winchester Hall: To see da boyz maturing, spreading their wings and finding new and creative ways to break the law, without calling DarththeBlaine, first. It just brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it?

president8444

Dems hate mail again, same haters tying to dislodge best vote getter Blaine .Oh the small group cannot get over thier loss,gee 4 real republicans and Gray a republican coat tail rider the last on the list.Gray should join dems a real turncoat.

MCEDDE21

From the web page of the State Open Meetings Law Compliance Board:
“One purpose of the government in the sunshine law was to prevent, at nonpublic meetings, the crystallization of secret decisions to a point just short of ceremonial acceptance. Rarely could there be any purpose to a nonpublic pre-meeting conference, except to conduct some part of the decisional process behind closed doors. That statute should be construed so as to frustrate all evasive devices.”

alovelyplace

Good thing our County Attorney John Mathias was available for a knee jerk reaction to the press on the taxpayers behalf without first reviewing the law or the audio. Yikes!

http://media.ccomrcdn.com/media/station_content/1142/ff061513-H2_1371496852_28469.mp3?CPROG=PCAST&MARKET=FREDERICK-MD&NG_FORMAT=&SITE_ID=1142&STATION_ID=WFMD-AM&PCAST_AUTHOR=930_WFMD&PCAST_CAT=Talk&PCAST_TITLE=Frederick_Forum_Pattee

alovelyplace

In this audio, Commissioner Shreve insists our BoCC has "The best plan in the whole United States" as an alternative to supporting Montevue/Citizens Care Homes. If you can break it down, it sounds like a plan for the loss of more than 1,300 new affordable homes to teachers, firefighters, police, social services provides with single income of $43K or less in all of the new developments of which developers are opting for the BoCC's amended 'in-lieu' of fee will now be supplemented by these 'in-lieu' of pennies on the millions deposited into the county 'land trust fund. This fund, per Billy's brilliant plan he's been working on more than 10 years, will be used to fix up seniors homes to stay in, "like condos" with a county owed reverse mortgage to facilitate care in place (Paul's idea too) and then... when "the need is no longer there (death)" the county will take their homes and refurbish them to sell to those teachers, firefighters. Yes. This IS the plan the BoCC has been structuring ordinances and fees into place for and that Blaine has also recently mentioned on the radio. Please pass the cocoa cocoa puffs.

The Young Show reference to 'the plan': http://youtu.be/sP0QoV7Xwkc

alovelyplace

[sad] So either these fellows holding our taxpayer purse strings are brilliant snake oil salesmen or they are absolute village fools while developers have a billion dollar field day at our community's expense.

armillary

On her radio show, Pattee Brown tiptoes around the subject of Blaine Young like her job depended on it.

kjswartz

A Haute Coati County funded Reverse Mortgage plan. How quaint!
These Four Commissioners giving validation to some Reverse Mortgage peddlers - for free? The Emperors have no clothes; admire them in all their glory!

LucyLucy

SHAME the BLAINE CAMPAIGN......
Anyone with the last name of YOUNG that wants to have a future in politics should be the ones that start that Campaign, you are the best ones that can shame Blaine out of office...Ron you are the dad and for your wife's sake(Political future) you would be the logical choice to sit down with your son and have a heart to heart...If Blaine continues much longer in office then the YOUNG name will be no longer be relevant in politics in the state of Maryland...SHAME the BLAINE CAMPAIGN....see how good that sounds.


[wink][wink][wink][wink][wink][wink][wink][wink]

puddintane245

Too late to save the name, but it is not only Blaine that has tarnished it. [lol]

LucyLucy

Really!!!!!!!! So hats off to Kimberly and Catherine, let me see now some of the commissioners are stacking a radio program, they stacked the planning commission, the ethics commission have now possibly violated the open meeting act. Makes you wonder what else they have done behind our backs, behind closed doors that we the TAXPAYERS will never now.....then again are WE the TAXPAYERS that surprised, considering who the BoCC is comprised of ??

Again we need to start the SHAME the BLAINE CAMPAIGN......

darththevader

Really???

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