I just read yet another letter to the editor from a local elected official who says he finds it good policy to walk out of meetings when he is afraid he’ll get mad. I suppose he and those he learned it from consider it adult behavior to walk out of every uncomfortable situation because he is afraid he will lose his temper.

Is this “counting to 10,” or is it simply a way of putting your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and chanting “nah nah nah nah” because you don’t want to listen?

People elect county-level representatives — those closest to the people — expecting them to seek opinions and alternatives on issues, weigh them equally, and come up with the best possible answer for the most possible people.

Instead, we see:

• At public meetings, rolling of eyes, those we elect engrossed in other material, or sighing to show their lack of interest.

• Ridicule of those with other opinions in newspaper letters, or even of residents at public hearings, because they are “done listening to this.”

• Increasing of fees required to contest government decisions; this punishes not only the group that has annoyed them but also has a chilling effect on any citizens group that disagrees.

My own recent experience adds another dimension to the decreasing responsiveness of our local government. I filed an information request with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in a billing estimate of more than $500 for information about budget, training and facts other counties already list on their websites and in their annual reports. Transparent government?

Many of these same local county elected officials who are pushing away the citizens say they follow the values of the “government by the people” platform of the tea party. Yet they thwart the requests of “the people” and quell the dissent of those from whom they don’t want to hear.

Democracy is messy. Our local commissioners need to get back into the weeds and do the hard work that being close to the people requires.

Linda Norris-Waldt, a mom, small-businessperson and former journalist, writes from Middletown.

(18) comments

stevemckay

Nice editorial Linda. Shame I can't say the same for most of the comments below, but nice piece all the same. Funny how not one person has actually countered your argument. Sure, they misdirect. But nobody seems to be able to deny or defend the actions of the BoCC. Perhaps it is simply not defensible.

darththevader

How about Kai's treatment of county employees he didn't agree with. Not very thoughtful and civil. And the there was Jan who told the county attorneys to find a legal reason to deny building a mosque in Frederick. She had more than her fingers in her ears.

watson4sherlock

But there already is a Islamic/Muslim house of worship and cemetary in Frederick.

Can you document these claims about Kai?

watson4sherlock

Kai Hagen: Outgoing Frederick County Commissioner says farewell
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RJBrPE_auw

j_roc101

That's not what we're talking about, Blaine.
Stop eating peanuts and pay attention

watson4sherlock

All the letter writers claims regarding the inappropriateness of the behavior of the elected officials are well documented in the public domain. The Maryland Attorney General maintains a website on the Maryland Public Information Act. See http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/pia.htm

Under SG §10-621(b), an official custodian may charge reasonable fees for the
search and preparation of records for inspection and copying. Search and preparation fees are to be reasonably related to the actual costs to the governmental unit in processing the request. SG §10-621(a); see also 71 Opinions of the Attorney General 318, 329 (1986) (“[t]he goal ... should be ... neither to make a profit nor to bear a loss on the cost of providing information to the public”). Fees may not be charged, however, for the first two hours of search and preparation time. SG §10-621(c).

See http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/Chapter7.pdf

soule1061

It's a strange form of democracy in which people equate "peaceful demonstration" with shouting and name-calling and call it public discourse. It's a strange form of democracy in which people on the Left accost public officials in a threatening way in a restaurant. It is only a matter of time before people on the Left resort to real violence. This is what we really need to worry about.

friedhard

Did you also read about the recent T party "reception" for Congressman Van Hollen at Carroll Community College? You should look in to it. You would be more worried about violence from the panicked right wingers if you did.

public-redux

Not a democracy. A Republic!

Huge, huge difference between the two.

president8444

UBU13 my 2013 real estate tax is less then 2012. i know I won't get another 100 rebate since you whining dems complained against most of us tax payers. The BOCC won, and still have the majority too. silent but mighty in Frederick county are republicans demmie, loser.Keep whining with demmie LINDA.

ubu13

I Repeat: "I suspect they won't notice the increase with property values decreasing."

President: You would see a decrease with property values decreasing BUT!!! if you were in a suburban fire district you were socked with a 4.8 cent tax increase too. It could have been even less. The point you're missing though is that there WAS an increase and this BOCC did not give proper notification or public hearings to these residents whether these residents or this particular REPUBLICAN!!! of 38 years like their decision or not.

aec71

Linda, I'm afraid the comments so far just demonstrate the immature name-calling, eye rolling, fingers-in-ears that you are talking about. The members of the REAL Tea Party include John Adams, who represented the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, so the true Patriots knew exactly what you meant - civil discourse and government participation/contribution is the best, and sometimes ONLY, way to resolve problems. The verbal intimidation witnessed in those meetings, and on this comment thread, is not very far away from the military threats they faced and that people around the world face today. To paraphrase a Nazi dissident, people who want to eliminate civil discourse are capable of eliminating the people who seek it.

president8444

Increasing fess,do you meant tax fees from O'malley and friends on gas plus others or are you just another republican hater??I'd walk out on your one sided veiws quick too.Close to people as your O'malley.? wanta bet, demmie.One sided veiw again against winners,just continue to whine at losers delight, LINDA

ubu13

^^^^^Let's see, among other increased fees........Our County taxpayers should have received their property tax bills recently. I wonder how many suburban fire district residents recognized they have been socked in the pocket with a ~4.8 cent tax per $1,000 assessment increase too while the urban fire districts did not. Since suburban fire district property owners were not individually notified of a tax increase nor allowed public hearings for them as done in the past, I suspect they won't notice the increase with property values decreasing. On a side note: Yes, those residents who were fortunate enough to get wind about the tax increase could have spoken up at the general budget hearing but WHY?!? It was a done deal. This BOCC picked a time of no return to provide proper notification and public hearings for these residents since the budget needed to be approved by July 1. Whether one agrees with this BOCC's fire tax increase or not, the residents' voices were once again dismissed. And that is what this BOCC calls transparent government????

Wayo44Mag

Wasn't it the DEMOCRATS who were pushing the fire tax???

ubu13

Missing my point: This was not about Democrats VS Republicans.

I repeat: "This BOCC picked a time of no return to provide proper notification and public hearings for these residents since the budget needed to be approved by July 1. Whether one agrees with this BOCC's fire tax increase or not, the residents' voices were once again dismissed. And that is what this BOCC calls transparent government????"

darththevader

Really??? Obviously doesn't member Lenny's conduct toward public commenters. Try getting a FOI from the BoE and then write a LTR about them

watson4sherlock

Redirection isn't going to work.

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