A Cascade woman is charging a Frederick County commissioners with violating state open meetings law by signing agreements with the buyers of two county facilities without voting on the documents.

Commissioners have contended that a public hearing and vote last year empowered officials to take the recent step in selling Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. But Kimberly Mellon, who filed the complaint Saturday with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board, said commissioners should have discussed the action in public and polled the board again.

"The impact on the community and on seniors merits much more respect than what they're getting" from the Board of County Commissioners, Mellon said in an interview.

On May 1, county commissioners announced they were transferring operations at Citizens and Montevue to a for-profit company, Aurora Holdings VII. The changeover moved hundreds of county employees to Aurora's payroll and placed the centers' finances in the company's hands. 

The county still owns the building and land occupied by the centers but plans to convey them to Aurora during the second and third phases of the sale. At this point, legal challenges have mired the property-related transactions.

To start the transition to Aurora, Commissioners President Blaine Young signed several documents, including an asset purchase agreement and lease with Aurora. Mellon said it was improper for Young to approve the documents without consulting other board members in a public meeting.

Young said he sought advice from county attorney John Mathias before signing the paperwork and received assurance that he was complying with the law.

He and other commissioners have said the board did not vote specifically on the lease or the current version of the purchase agreement. However, after a lengthy public hearing in June, four of five commissioners passed a resolution to sell Citizens and Montevue to Aurora. Commissioner David Gray opposed the sale.

The resolution authorized the commissioners president and vice president and other county officials to "do any and all things, execute all instruments, documents, certificates and otherwise take all actions necessary, proper or expedient in connection with the Asset Purchase Agreement and the sale of the CCRC and MAL facilities." 

However, the resolution also stipulates that the final purchase agreement should be "in substantially the form" it was when commissioners approved the sale. Mellon argues that the agreement signed May 1 was significantly different from the one previously endorsed by the county board.

The original agreement made no mention of a three-part sale or a lease, she said. The signed document also contains a new clause that bars the county from owning, managing or financing a facility in competition with Citizens and Montevue until five years from the land sale, she said.

The commissioners should have at least voted on the new documents, Mellon said, though she thinks such large changes to the purchase arrangement should require the county to rebid the sale.

Commissioner Paul Smith disagrees that changes to the purchase agreement were substantial and viewed Mellon's complaint as another in a series of attempts to block the sale.

Young said he thinks the sale process has been transparent; commissioners have clearly stated their intentions to sell the homes while making sure all county employees were offered jobs with the buyer and facility residents were not displaced.

"I don't know how you could be any more transparent than that," he said.

Smith also said Mellon's complaint does not seem pertinent to the Maryland Open Meetings Act, which requires public bodies to hold meetings in public and provide adequate notice of the meetings. A three-person compliance board reviews claims that governments have violated the act and issues written opinions in response. The board does not have enforcement powers.

The county will have 30 days to respond to Mellon's complaint. The compliance board can then issue an advisory opinion after reviewing the submitted material.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(57) comments

japorciento

Well, two more of my comments were removed without a trace, overnight. But I still wonder how certain commenters can justify living off the dole, while denying the right of others in poverty to the same assistance?

Perhaps their positions can be explained as simple denial or self-loathing. Perhaps they fear exposure as part of the nation's poor, ashamed of their status, in a particular social circle.

I feel sorry for you.

JGraham

Feel better big guy/gal? I have no pity for whatever comments you wrote that were removed - have no idea what they were ... I can barely stand justifying your infantile post above with a reply but I will try to remind you that sometimes our elderly family members get to the age of ~85 and decide *for themselves* what, where and how they plan to spend the rest of their lives. I feel sorry for you that your argument against selling Citizen's is SO WEAK that you have to pull up the obituary of a 91 year old woman to make your point. I would not even be responding except some folks alerted me to your continued nonsense. I'll end my reply to you the same way I started my replies to this article: SELL IT - ALL of it!!!

kjswartz

Another piece of Mayberry gets dumped, bulldozed, and demolished.
For what purpose?
To what end?

This was a legacy entrusted to future Frederick citizens, lovingly passed on from generations to generations. It's a letter straight from our past: stand for charity and never forget.

That, you gotta admit, has to trouble you somewhat. Where will you find the next Charitable thought? Charitable Deed? Charitable Passion? Do be become a soulless bought-for society? Warcrack addicts?

Sad thing, I honestly have charitable pity for you.

pcoe

Having entities like The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board is about as useful as having guard dogs with no teeth. Very much like the Administrative Law Judges used by the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicle to alleviate burgeoning court dockets, except they have no power over the DMV what so ever, the DMV does not have to comply with the judges findings if it choose to do otherwise.

The concept of "Separation of Powers" the very concept of "Checks and Balances" has been watered down and dissolved over time by politicians to aid themselves and those who wield the powers along with them by removing any legal means that might hinder them from managing their bureaucracy as they fit. They have essentially become "Above The Law".

It appears to me that Mr. Young and the commissioners have over stepped their authority, by signing any thing other than an order for Erin M. White ( Acting Director of Frederick County Finance Division) to take care of the signing of lease, and contract. If they were to further follow the chains of command properly Mr. White would then assign the task to Diane L. George (Director of Procurements and Contracting) under whose realm it falls to ascertain that any procurements or contracts are in legal compliance with county, state and federal laws, the signing of the lease is by all means the signing of a contract, and so it is her fiduciary responsibility. After which any monies to be be involved in the transaction would then be the jurisdiction of Diane E. Fox (Director of the Treasury).

Have the Commissioners side stepped the whole process in order to expedite the sale? Yes apparently. Why and to whose benefit? Supposedly the counties benefit. To whose detriment? Our senior citizens, and our gainfully employed citizens that could loose their jobs, because of a contract that was hastily pushed through and possibly full of loop holes that might have been closed had the sale been procedurally handled as mandated by "The Law" of Frederick County. If you do not know who "The Law" is in Frederick County, I will tell you it is not "The Executive Branch" AKA The Frederick County Commissioners, the Frederick County Commissioners are the "Administrators"! "The Law" is it's citizens, that is you and I as the voters. Want another lesson in civics? I ask you who is at the head of the Executive Branch of Maryland? If you think it is Governor Martin J. O'Malley you would be wrong; it is in fact "Voters of Maryland" that's us, you and I, the TOP DOGS, it is high time for us to do our jobs, and get these clowns that would have us do their will, do ours and follow the law as we have mandated.

OFMV

BRAVO!!!!!

KellyAlzan

Jill king is worried about the county paying to care for needy senior citizens.

Yet....Ms King, on her own free will previously posted on the FNP comments that she bought her house through a gov't subsidized mortgage program!!!

So what's the difference?

dbjanda1

Darth---Who subsidizing Aurora for the 17 empty beds for the next 4 years ???...Me

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stuckon270

Glad to see you have decided that those who call others names here should be reported and deleted.[thumbup]. I also agree with marylandmirage, and will elaborate that not only applies to calling individuals names but groups as well.

political orphan

More backroom deals to follow. The Open Meetings law has no teeth, and the "Ethics" board is in the back pocket of big money. The downward spiral continues unabated.

cctjr64

Part of Cascade is in Frederick County. Take a ride up Rt550 and you will see.

OFMV

Yes it is! Cascade is divided by the county line and two ZIP codes. It would be nice if our Commissioners' president and BOCC would cease their snarky comments about the County's furtherest Northwest community which mattered when Ft Ritchie provided an important booming small town economy up on the mountain. The government 'neighbors' and jobs remaining should matter. That said, I live on the WaCo side of the street which divides the two ZIPs.

dbjanda1

Blaine needs to count how many fingers are on one hand, that's how many county

commissioners there are representing Frederick county...However Blaine tucks in

his thumb, index, ring and pinky fingers and leaves one extended to show how much

respect he has for his fellow commissioners and the citizens of the County...Time to

show him who's number one on election day with the other fingers of the hand...Me

jill king

How many frivolous ethics complaints has this Washington County resident filed? Sometimes FNP needs to get some facts to go with the fluff.

Extra Ignored

None.

KellyAlzan

Jill,

you come here commenting and wanting to appear so smart and you go to great extremes to attempt to one-up everyone.

but what difference does it make where one lays their head at night?

A Frederick county property owner pays the exact same property taxes as you do. Show me where they have less reason to be concerned about county gov't business.

Infact, considering you just recently became a home owner - Ms Melon has owned property in the county for longer than you have. You do realize this right, Jill?

When you make such comments like this, not only does it display that you get very distraught as Ms Melon's right to care, but it also shows how ignorant you are and weakens all of anything you type.

If you're foolish enough to think that one must go to bed in the county, regardless of the fact that they own property in the county and pay property taxes - then it's no wonder why you support a man who: 1) utilizes the services of prostitutes. (which engaging in acts of prostitution is ILLEGAL) 2) cusses out a teen basketball referee, and refers to the teen as performing vulgar sex acts 3) cheats oh his wife.

Your grand parents Jill, would be so proud of you for support such a first class person :)

Shon

What business is it of a Cascade woman? Cascade is in Washington county. How does someone from another county have an opinion or even a right to complain about something being done by another county's representatives?

kjswartz

Being laid offby your employer is reason enough for a local reporter to look closer into this mess.

darththevader

Who got laid off and what does it have to with an out of county stalker?

Extra Ignored

Petitioning your government of redress of grievances is a 1st admentment right. Perhaps you are familiar with the 2nd admendment of the Bill of Rights. The 1st admendment comes before the 2nd admendment in the Bill of Rights.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

kjswartz

325 employees at Citizens and Montevue got laid off by the county - scratch that - laid off by Blaime Young to the surprise of the rest of the BoCC.

It's in their termination notices.

It's also in violation of the WARN act. You do not use unannounced mass layoffs as a termination method - people are not slaved to operations. If they do not like the new owners, employees have THE RIGHT to find other employment.

KellyAlzan

"what business is it"?

Its a right that one has when they are a property owner.

And umm.......pay county property taxes.

And one day when you buy your first property - you'll be afforded the same rights :)

valerie_dale

Stop and think. Is selling your home 'substantially different' than leasing your home? If you believe so, then the point is that with government, it needed to go to public hearing. This is about public process as much as anything else, and the issue of violating it.

Dink King

Shiftless 88 don't worry he will never be the governor of Maryland,too many smart people in other areas that see right through him and his following of clowns the smart ones wouldn't vote for him,only the ignorant unintelligent followers of frederick will vote him,he way go down in the same manner in which Jack Johnson did in PG COUNTY

mllposey

Sell it. All of it - land, building, operations. Be done with it. All it ever did was lose tax payer dollars. That's all it will ever do as a gov't owned nursing facility.

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japorciento

Say it ain't so! A daughter who forgets the compassionate care granted by the taxpayers to her disabled and dying mother for so many years? A Republican, too? And, it's only been since January.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/z/content_type/obituary/obituary-juanita-belle-linger/article_84a527d9-4e06-578a-adaa-6928954f1de2.html

Mrs. Juanita Belle Linger, 91, formerly of Carroll Parkway, Frederick, and more recently a resident of Northampton Manor, passed in her sleep on Wednesday, January 8, with her only daughter by her side. Mother and daughter shared the same October birthday.

darththevader

What does North Hampton have to do with anything?

darththevader

So where is the impact?

Extra Ignored

Aurora's bad debt expense $1.4 million

Value of employee vacation and sick leave

Cost of a new parking lot

Title transfer fees and legal expenses

Care for 5 years at Odyssey Assistive Living $10 million

Dividends on bonds that can't be paid off early

Extra Ignored

The county's debt/asset ratio has risen greatly.

It may cause the county's bond rating to drop.

Comment deleted.
jill king

Does North Hampton depend on County funding? You just proved that the County does not need to own a nursing home to receive subsidies. Thanks!

What is the argument again? Hmmmm.....

KellyAlzan

hmmmm.......how much funding did Frederick Co just give to Buckinghams Choice??

Hmmmm......

Hmmmm......

Hmmmm......

Hmmmm......

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mllposey

Absolutely! She wouldn't have it any other way. Never owned a home. Never drove - never had a driver's license. Walked to work well into her 70s at the school supply store in downtown Frederick. Made all decisions on her own up until the day she died. Dad resided at Beverly Healthcare and an Aunt at Citizen's. By far the best care was Northampton Manor. I highly recommend them. So back to the issue at hand - yes, sell it. Sell it all! Think of the road improvements and school improvements that could have taken place with all that money we have lost at Citizen's....

Extra Ignored

Less than $4 million dollars doesn't buy much any more and $700,000 buys even less.

An elementary school costs $30 million to build and it will take the county 20 years to recoupe costs of what they've lost this year converting public property to private use.

OFMV

Correct me if I am wrong, Mrs. Linger was the lovely woman who lived next door to me and at one time in my home I purchased on Carroll Parkway. I am sorry to hear of her passing yet very happy to learn of her long life and good care. Mary and Jill, you both are info hounds. If you read the new CCRC-MAL asset purchase agreement and lease carefully, you will find in section 4 that Blaine Young agreed to a non-competition clause with a 10 mile radius effective immediately. That clause would no allow Frederick County to make any agreements to Care for Ms Linger any where other than Aurora at their chosen rates for service. This 'lease' and terms are for 21 years. Perhaps longer if the deed of the land is upheld. Does Blaine Young really want "out of the nursing home business" or does he just want to limit and control which services we have available for providing continued care to our neediest citizens?

shiftless88

We in Frederick County deserve an award. Yes, we have allowed this man to screw up our county BUT we sort of "took one for the team" by also exposing his methods in such a manner that he lost any support for running for Governor.

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dave222330

Ms Mellon can dish it out, but sure can't take it. Typical of the far left.

patrick

From the article : "Young said he thinks the sale process has been transparent..."

Well, not quite. Between Oct 2012 and March 2013, Blaine Young told me directly that the BoCC (at least himself, Billy and Kirby) voted to give Blaine unilateral (Executive-like) powers to make decisions on behalf of the entire BoCC.

Since he holds the proxy for Kirby and Billy, he essentially has an automatic voting majority for any actions and / or decisions he desires to make.

If you think back to the attempted bribery of the MD Board of Public Works meeting(s) (Gov, Treasurer, Comptroller) ... no one in their right mind would have authorized Blaine to present a $300,000 check for a $200,000 grant repayment ... that was a unilateral Blaine stunt.

It was never made clear if the check was real or fake. If it was real, then someone in the county finance organization has some explaining to do.

jill king

heresay

stuckon270

Muzzled [sad][sad]

alovelyplace

In a press release, Lori Depies stated that the county is not handling the RFP - Requests for Proposal process - Marcus & Millichap are. Don't forget their est 2 million finders fee due at 'purchase' closing. The 'proposal' for Aurora has now been modified from an 'complete asset purchase' sale competed and won between 6 bidders to a 21 year facilities lease. This new 'lease' proposal with a 'no competition' clause was NEVER included in a purchase proposal. Ms. Depies has also stated this in a press conference. The bids were for 'complete sale'. The other bidders have a legal right to dispute and demand a second equal opportunity at Young's yard sale giveaway of our care homes. IMO. Kimberly Mellon

armillary

It's a country-western song. There's lots of verses. Here's the bridge:

Oh he's forty-two and stupid
with a big chip, on his shoulder
he'll be forty-three next birthday
a little dumber, a little older,

His Momma wishes in her heart
he'd grown up just like you
not tearing money from Head Start
or selling Montevue.

Everybody now......

MCEDDE21

Svengali’s latest magic trick (or David Blaine, if you prefer) values 7.5 acres of prime real estate at $400,000. Because the wizard knows the court will never approve his attempt to bust the deed and sell the land, he has set a 99-year lease (a sort of DRRA for privatized government assets) at a dollar a year! In other words, he’s handing Aurora another $399,901 in clear profit.

This land is easily worth six or seven million dollars. (Of course, the government has never sought or obtained a true valuation of the facilities or the land.) If I could buy a house and get the manor for a buck (saving millions), why would I buy the land? A car lease for a dollar a year and no down payment? Wow! Gimme two!

SaveFrederick

The 21 year lease agreement should have been discussed in open session and should have been voted on the entire board. Paul Smith and David Gray both publicly acknowledged they did not know the details of this deal. The secret deals of the Blaine Young Board need to come to an end.

MCEDDE21

Yeah. This is rich: "He (Young) and other commissioners have said the board did not vote specifically on the lease or the current version of the purchase agreement." (Ha, Ha! 'Well, um, no. We didn't actually VOTE on it!' Way to go, boys!)

Oh. Did you have anything else to add, guys?
[beam]

alovelyplace

I have lived, still own and pay property taxes, worked and raised my family in Frederick County for nearly 30 years. My family is here, rooted here and grandchild will attend schools here. I also own and currently reside in Cascade, on the Washington County side. Thank you Darth. Aren't you commenting from Florida these days?

darththevader

You would have no idea where I'm commenting from. You're too busy filling up your "My life with Blaine" scrap book

Extra Ignored

Are you jealous because you don't have a life with Blaine or because you don't have a scrapbook about your life with Blaine?

Comment deleted.
marylandmirage

Just because someone has an opposing viewpoint does not make them a "dunce". Name calling says less about the person being name-called, than it does about the person doing the name-calling. [rolleyes]

darththevader

"The impact on the community and on seniors"? What impact? Citizens and the residents are still there.

Liberals need victims to thrive on. When none exist, they manufacture them

armillary

Conservatives need enemies to thrive on. When none exist, they manufacture them.

MCEDDE21

Aurora stopped accepting the poor, last August. There are currently 17 empty which would, otherwise, be available to provide care for the needy, not to mention relief for struggling family members. And, somehow, mysteriously, the waiting list of applicants for admission has disappeared. Do you know anything about that, Darth?

darththevader

I know that 17 empty beds is typical (according to a recent FNP article). Since this deal just went through, how did they stop taking anybody for any reason last year?

kjswartz

Simple

If Aurora loses Oddessey in the next election, it will be THEIR responsibility to remove those residents and find care for them in other homes AT EQUAL COST.

Comment deleted.
darththevader

Not even in Frederick

kjswartz

"'The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) is a United States labor law which protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees. In 2001, there were about 2,000 mass layoffs and plant closures which were subject to WARN advance notice requirements and which affected about 660,000 employees.

Employees entitled to notice under the WARN Act include managers and supervisors, hourly wage, and salaried workers. The WARN Act requires that notice also be given to employees' representatives (i.e., a labor union), the local chief elected official (i.e. the mayor), and the state dislocated worker unit.

The advance notice gives workers and their families transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other employment, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining programs that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market.'"

From Wikipedia. The staff at Montevue & Citizens were not regular local government employees.

guido207

There was no public hearing on the lease. Heck, even the other four Commissioners had no idea what was going on. Young could have been "more transparent" by actually having a public hearing on the lease.

Young knew that most Frederick County voters would have seen his lease of assets that the law does not allow him to sell as a violation of the public trust. So he tried to do it the sleazy way, like he does everything else, in secret, behind closed doors, away from the public view. In his mind, he believes these assets belong to him, not to Frederick County taxpayers.

If he is so proud of the destruction of Montevue / Citizens, why is he trying to hide it from everybody?

alovelyplace

[smile]

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