A state board has found three Frederick County commissioners violated the state’s Open Meetings Act when they discussed the sale of two county-owned facilities on a local radio program in June.

The five-page opinion dated Friday explains that Commissioners Paul Smith, Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter were at fault because the county had not provided notice of the show.

“Although the three County Board members who participated in the radio broadcast clearly did not intend to conceal their discussion, the general public — not merely the radio station’s usual audience — was entitled to reasonable advance notice that a quorum of the County Board would discuss legislative business then pending before it,” the opinion states.

The commissioners’ June 15 appearance on the WFMD show related to the potential privatization of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living.

The county argued that far from avoiding transparency, the commissioners were encouraging open government by fielding questions from citizens over the airwaves. State law allows public officials to gather as long as they aren’t intending to sidestep the Open Meetings Act, the county attorney said.

However, this exemption to the act doesn’t apply to the June 15 radio appearance because commissioners “interacted on a pending issue,” the compliance board’s opinion stated. The board also noted that 10 days after the program, the commissioners voted to approve the sale of Citizens and Montevue.

The finding from the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board is solely advisory, since the body cannot hand down penalties or orders, according to its website.

The initial complaint that three of five commissioners had run afoul of the Open Meetings Act was filed by Catherine Forrence, former member of the Frederick County Planning Commission.

Reached by phone Saturday, she said she hoped the opinion would encourage the commissioners to abandon their “cowboy ways.”

“This is another example that the majority of the county commissioners believe that they are above the law,” Forrence said.

Kimberly Mellon, a Washington County resident, also submitted a complaint about the radio appearance.

Smith said he was surprised by the compliance board’s finding and suspected that the strict reading of the Open Meetings Act would have far-reaching implications.

Delauter and Shreve said they thought the opinion was ridiculous.

Shreve pointed out that anyone could’ve listened to the radio show, “Frederick’s Forum,” and could access an archive of the program online.

He also said the commissioners never engaged in a three-way conversation, since only two at a time could participate in the discussion. The compliance board’s opinion will not change Shreve’s approach to talking about county business, and he said he feels the entire issue was a waste of time for government staff.

“This frivolous complaint has probably cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars,” he said. “It’s public radio. What could be more open than that?”

Delauter said he doesn’t believe he, Shreve and Smith violated state law.

Delauter was not present in the WFMD studio during the program, but called in to the show and was on-air for about seven minutes.

“I’m not going to lose any sleep on it,” he said of the compliance board’s decision.

Forrence said she hopes the conclusions reached by the compliance board will carry weight with the Maryland Board of Public Works, which is set to review the sale of Citizens and Monteuve on Aug. 21.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(52) comments

dadadata

After Oct. 1 of this year, when the Compliance Board hands down an opinion, a public body found to be breaking the law will have to conduct a review of the opinion in an open meeting less than 30 days after getting the opinion.

So anyone who is interested in disputing the commissioners' take on what the law means will have a chance to ask them directly.

backroomfrederick

Can the political bologni. This is about a group who didn't follow the rules and probably will be voted far from any office in the future. Frederick is tired of the kiddy games and needs true leadership regardless of party or whatever label rolls easiest from your mouth. Frederick has seen enough. It's not intelligent or conducive to an innovative and unified county. The quicker we can move on from this bunch the better.

Sourdoh1

In a purely political move, the socialist republic of MD exacts its revenge.

shiftless88

Yes, the selling of the nursing homes WAS a purely political move.

stevem90999

Basically, it appears the TRUE concern here was the sale of the county home. This was just a backdoor way of getting back at the commissioners for selling it...period!

frederickcountymaryland

Please share the research to backup your allegations for the "emotional" types who pay taxes and believe the BoCC looked past the real financials to suit their aim: privatize at all costs!

vmdigioia

How about the old sayin, 'git er done'?

Spending without some controls or accurate audits --- its broken.

The County cannot deliver quality and compassionate care to our most needy citizens without losing so much money that it is time to look for alternatives.

There is a balance somewhere -- but the discussion is lost due to the emotional hype and the lack of appreciation for alternate and diverse solutions.

frederickcountymaryland

Vmdigigoia, I'm sure you've heard the saying "if it ain't broke than don't fix it". The BOCC did the opposite. If it serves the under-served, cut it! If it creates low-wage jobs, build it! If the private sector can turn a profit, let them have it! All the better if it makes more money for our special interests.

vmdigioia

http://assistedlivingtoday.com/p/nursing-homes/

vmdigioia

http://www.nhmonitor.com/

vmdigioia

http://www.forltc.org/nhrbillrights.html

vmdigioia

https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics/guidelines/nursinghome/final_nh_guidelines.pdf

vmdigioia

http://www.ltcombudsman.org/sites/default/files/library/documents/Nursing-Homes-Who-Owns-Them.pdf

vmdigioia

20 Common Nursing
Home Problem and
How to Resolve Them

How difficult would it be for those area residents that are posting for/against the sale to actually form a legal investment group to create a not-for-profit to purchase the property (and to manage the services)?

wmpratt2010

That would act against the obvious political opposition.

valerie_dale

I think this article shows a lack of respect by some on the BOCC for laws and the issues like transparency and due public notice that guide the public process for citizen participation. We need better government than this!

democratdave

This is so typical of the tea-bag party radicals. They hate government and when they have the power they don't want to share it with any others, They have a hidden agenda and feel that they are above the law.

See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!!!

elymus43

Did any of you folks vote for any of the present BOCC in the last election, if you did only blame yourself. I still think Lennie Thompson should have gotten elected in the last election.

frederickcountymaryland

Must be a difficult job defending the actions of the current Board.

backroomfrederick

"He (Shreve) also said the commissioners never engaged in a three-way conversation.."

This might be true... as anything other than 'one-way' suggestions from the BoCC President might make their heads hurt. But, that doesn't mean they can't make a sweet three-way beach pyramid.

vmdigioia

Pattee's Saturday Talk Show on WFMD provides "the opportunity to bring opposing sides of any debate together for spirited and intelligent discussions."

So . . . what difference does it make?!!!

"The Board has neither investigative nor enforcement powers. Therefore, the primary value of its opinions is to promote future compliance by educating public bodies and members of the public."

>>> The Open Meetings Law Compliance Board is an independent unit of State government composed of three members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board has no office or budget of its own, although the Office of the Attorney General provides staff support.

Are you kidding? The Open Meetings Law Compliance Board are political hacks that use their proverbial arses to fill a seat -- a waste of time and money.

Amy more whiners and complainers out there that can't seem to comply with the current legal process our BOCC uses?

>>> The Board then reviews the submissions and issues a written opinion. The Board has neither investigative nor enforcement powers.

No investigative nor enforcement powers -- none -- yet they can render their thoughtless opinions!! LOL!!

shiftless88

I would love it if the compliance board had powers to punish! Perhaps in this case they would put a stay on this decision.

MCEDDE21

The Board of Public Works will meet to approve/disapprove the County’s proposed sale of Montevue/Citizens on Wednesday, August 21, at 10 AM. Opponents of the sale will carpool from the Park & Ride on Rt. 144 (East Patrick St) across from the National Guard Armory, leaving at 7:30 AM sharp.

At its July 24 meeting, the BPW made the appropriate decision; i.e., to defer action until our civil tort claims have been properly adjudicated. Our immediate objective, therefore, is to ask the BPW to continue its deferral.

BPW Agenda Item 44-CGL: "The BPW, Community Foundation, and Frederick County entered into a grant agreement containing the standard language that prohibits the Community Foundation or Frederick County (as beneficiary) from selling, exchanging, giving away, transferring or disposing of the real property without BPW approval." (For text, see OpenDrive...)
https://stevebruns.opendrive.com/files?Ml8yNTgzMDA1NV9KcGVyVw

For additional information, please follow us on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/StopTheSaleOfMontevueCitizens?fref=ts

frederickcountymaryland

"[Shreve] also said the commissioners never engaged in a three-way"

FromTheBleachers

A reach-around is different from a three-way.

jthompson

I had predicted the Open Meetings Compliance Board would rule the other way. Congrats to Mses. Forrence & Mellon. They were right and I was wrong.

alovelyplace

Dear FNP, After having being a 20+ year resident who's children have all graduated from Frederick County schools and will now watch my grandchild attend them, chose Frederick started a health care practice with my spouse in the 80's, built homes, owned a farm, volunteered, and now work at Ft. Detrick and still own and pay Frederick County property taxes, while living just across the street, literally, from the county line, the only acknowledgement I'm allowed is, "a resident of Washington County?" [sad] That's ok. I'm still celebrating Frederick County Resident Catherine Forrence's outstanding job of holding her Frederick County BOCC accountable for their actions. [beam]

alovelyplace

Corrections, "having been" and "chose Frederick to start a healthcare practice." I'm getting so A.D.D., I'll be commenting in President8444 style soon. [beam]

Impeach Blaine

The FNP, needs to make a correction:

It should read: "...a Frederick County property owner....."

FromTheBleachers

To: alovelyplace

For a citizen activist to be more concerned with their own notoriety than the results of their activism is way beyond normal. If you are motivated to do what you do by a "look at me" mentality, you might consider getting into something else.

alovelyplace

Bleachers, the point of my comment was not a demand for attention, but a better explanation of why I care vs the dismissive 'out of county' reference statement by the FNP. Limelight is not my forte. The credit goes to Catherine Forrence.

kjswartz

Interesting how we now have to listen to Blaime Young's Radio Hour to be properly informed citizens. Tune in, everyone, and be educated to the thoughts and musings of our Feeredless Leader! Exhort all thoughts against the regime.

... Sounds like propaganda, doesn't it. Something George Orwell wrote many years ago. It is very troubling to me that a political leader has paid appearances on a radio show with a limited listenership, and then proceeds to discuss public policy with a closed system of caller selection. No matter how the program is orchestrated, Young is being paid to augment his Commissioner's salary. Increased listenership means more money. Why show up to public meetings when you know in your heart of hearts that the decision has already been debated and we weren't invited, our presence was not welcomed?

Put it this way: there's no way a person speaking their peace in a public meeting would be allowed to be booed and ridiculed - that would be the death of civility. Radio programs are different; follow up callers are intentionally mean spirited for the sole purpose of quashing debate and to make it clear that these callers's support of the program dangles on the host satisfying their mindset. Debate is the furthest from their mind.

Here's a thought - why not blindly start calling the show? I don't listen; placing my car radio to AM is a chore and a constant blast of static.

rbtdt5

You know this didn't happen on Blaines program, right?

stuckon270

"limited listnership" ? By that do you mean virtually the whole world. You probably dont realize it is streamed on the internet. If anyone has internet access they could have listened in.

jeff44

The "whole world"...HA! WFMDs (and BY's) arbitron ratings indicate a very limited listenership.

Newthinking7

After living around the U.S and traveling other countries. I would not describe them as cowboys.
It is more like the old money and you stay poor attitudes. It is the Caste system in real life.
The thinking the three display is old Thialand. It is the enforcement of if you are born poor it is Gods will
This is how Frederick was portrayed for many years in the state. This is the last vestage of the "yes massa" life.

armillary

The cowboys are up to their tricks
and they've gotten themselves in a fix
their pictures are plain
but one's missing for Blaine
oh I see that's him back on B-6.

usgov

I fully trust our people (BoCC) to do our bidding not democrats and Obama.

touscents

How did these commissioners not know the law on this matter? These laws are meant to prevent backroom deals, so they are important. Maybe this sort of discussion should be exempt, but so far it isn't. Duh.

LucyLucy

Prevent backrooms deals...you do realize who you are talking about..right?

Backroom deals are how they get things done in Frederick, city and county....Blaine learned from his daddy and has now perfected backroom deals to an art form.....he has now been able to put into practice what he was taught and what he has been doing all his life..he knows no other way to do business...

president8444

The state board all dems ,investigate them too.Anti republican board.Lucy too.

president8444

Lucylucy they are above the law. as is your man Obama and Kerry.This is just gossip from some do gooders like you.No senswe ever.Do westill have free speech enven the bocc.No say lucy and friends who look for gossip daily.Many losers do look for this type gossip.No harm done.Gray on vacation again.

higgledy

Kerry is not above the law, he's just an idiot.

Comment deleted.
LucyLucy

I usually pay Woody's comments no mind and in no way can interpret what he is saying, ...but I think that possibly he is still hung over from the party Blaine threw for the cab company on Friday night??

His comments make my head hurt..and lower my IQ by about ten points so typically I just skip over them...I find it fascinating that he actually is partners with Blaine and can find his way to work every morning...LOL..

usgov

Our republican BoCC doesn't need public input to determine what's appropriate for the people of Frederick County. The BoCC would never do anything that's detrimental to the people of Frederick County because they're one of us. [wink]

wmpratt2010

A technicality at best. I don't see how anyone can use this to stop the sale, if anyone is thinking this.

LucyLucy

Reached by phone Saturday, she said she hoped the opinion would encourage the commissioners to abandon their “cowboy ways.”

“This is another example that the majority of the county commissioners believe that they are above the law,” Forrence said.

Catherine they were all raised thinking that they were above the law and you know that, they will never abandon their cowboy ways because they have been "cowboys" all their lives, why do you think Blaine got Billy and Kirby to run with him..? He needed his little amigos to stroke his ego and obey his every command, which they have done.

You know who raised Blaine and you know that Ron was above law, so of course Blaine thinks he is too..and so do his little amigos...

Delauter and Shreve said they thought the opinion was ridiculous.....well of course they thought the opinion was ridiculous..Blaine tells them what to do on a daily basis and told them to say that...don't see quote from Blaine about this..he is their leader, why no quote from Blaine, Bethany? I realize that Blaine was not involved in this but still a quote from the head honcho would of been appropriate in this story..

Anyway for some comics that will make you laugh just check out the Shame the Blaine Campaign FB page..there should be a new a one posted later today..thanks

higgledy

Ron definitely thinks he's above the law.

dbjanda1

At least they didn't say it was David Gray's fault, yet...Maybe they were using Terc Math: 2+1on the phone doesn't equal three when advocating for the sale of the nursing homes...Isn't this Kirby's second ethical complaint against him ???...Does the three strikes rule apply in politics...A shining example of county leadership to have the children follow (NOT)...Me

fourstoogesandthatotherguy_the

Curly Delauter's and Shemp Shreve's ho-hum responses are almost as arrogant as their leader, Moe Young. And even though Larry Smith sometimes seems to try and distance himself from the other boobs, although not so much on this matter, he sold his soul to Moe and Moe's crooked mentors to get elected. They all must pay the consequences for their arrogant behavior since they've been in office...at a minimum, they must never be re-elected to anything. The best case scenario would be one or more going to prison.

backroomfrederick

excuse me- "sums"

backroomfrederick

WFMD Happy Hour Dumpling Gang going astray?

" the general public — not merely the radio station’s usual audience" the opinion states.

Pretty much somes it up.

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