At least two complaints of an Open Meetings Act violation have been lodged against the Frederick County commissioners for their closed-session vote on a $200,000 grant repayment.

The submissions to the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board claim that the decisions should have happened in the open because they relate to public business. Middletown resident Sonja Sperlich wrote one of the complaints, and The Frederick News-Post submitted the other.

County commissioners voted Sept. 5 to send the $200,000 check with a letter to the state in order to facilitate the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living.

Sperlich’s letter references several portions of state law to bolster her argument that commissioners breached the Open Meetings Act.

The law’s intent is to ensure that “except in special and appropriate circumstances, public business be performed in an open and public manner and citizens be allowed to observe the performance, deliberations and decisions of the BOCC,” Sperlich, former chairwoman of the Citizens board of trustees, wrote in her complaint.

John Mathias, county attorney, argues there was no open meetings violation, saying the county took the vote on the grant repayment long before the Sept. 5 closed session.

As part of the June 25 decision to sell Citizens and Montevue, commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the county manager, county staff, and the commissioners president and vice president to “do any and all things, execute all instruments, documents, certificates and otherwise take all actions necessary, proper or expedient in connection with ... the sale of CCRC and MAL facilities.”

The board met in a closed session Sept. 5 because the commissioners were discussing the terms of the county’s grant agreement with the state.

“There was legal advice provided as to the board’s options under that agreement,” Mathias said.

The News-Post complaint asserted that the potential for legal issues doesn’t justify a closed-door vote.

“While a hypothetical political battle between the state and county could lead to a court case, the heart of this issue is the handling of public money. The taxpayers of Frederick County have an expectation that political decisions ... such as the matter in question will be discussed in public, not in secret,” the News-Post complaint states.

Commissioner David Gray, who opposed the grant repayment, has said he believes the vote should have happened in a public meeting.

The open meetings board in mid-August found that commissioners Billy Shreve, Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter violated the Open Meetings Act by participating in a radio show that addressed the potential sale of Citizens and Montevue. The open meetings board has an advisory role and cannot impose penalties or issue orders.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(42) comments

alovelyplace

Open Meetings Complaint #3 Which closed meeting and how long ago did our 3 vote BoCC decide to 'stick' it to Carroll County taxpayers in the amount of $3 million? And how long, like insider trading, have they known they won't push the project through?

http://youtu.be/RuZZ7WE7LGk Full audio may be found in WFMD Audio Files for Sept. 23 H3

Why stop MDE and all the state taxpayer funding going into the review and issue of permits? Why stop Wheelbrator from wasting their PR and staff working on the logistics? Why stop developers from speculating on surrounding property values and picking them up at a discount? Why stop teachers and parents with children in near by schools from contemplating the safety and health concerns of the incinerator location? Why stop considerations of necessary road improvements or the false reasoning for authorizing them for private interests in the long run? The moment this 'slate' of three made this switch in their game plan should have been public, and open and for absolutely no ethical reason possible, been allowed to continue for the personal political purposes of any of the three and certainly, most certainly, not for the use of sticking Carroll County with the fee.

president8444

[smile][wink][beam]oh oh

backroomfrederick

"commissioners passed a resolution authorizing...."

Words that usually preclude anything positive for Frederick County.

frederickdad

Chessie, I assume that you believe in the rule of law...So do you agree that the BOCC should adhere to the law that exists? Sounds like you think it is ok to ignore the law since there is no real enforcement?

chesapeakecountry

According to the County Attorney above no laws have been broken.

dbjanda1

Darth---What proof do you have that this is 'frivolous' ???...Me

Baylock

Chessie you are so good...... about demeaning other parties character but your position working for a republican delegate is an acceptable forum!!!!

frederickdad

[ohmy] Chessie works for a GOP delegate? Very Interesting![sneaky]

japorciento

Yes. Very interesting. And, not surprisingly, a Republican--trying to undermine the laws of the state--all the while on the state payroll.

Maryland Constitution, Article 1: SEC. 9. Every person elected, or appointed, to any office of profit or trust, under this Constitution, or under the Laws, made pursuant thereto, shall, before he enters upon the duties of such office, take and subscribe the following oath, or affirmation: I, _______________, do swear, (or affirm, as the case may be,) that I will support the Constitution of the United States; and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the Constitution and Laws thereof; and that I will, to the best of my skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice, execute the office of________________, according to the Constitution and Laws of this State, (and, if a Governor, Senator, Member of the House of Delegates, or Judge,) that I will not directly or indirectly, receive the profits or any part of the profits of any other office during the term of my acting as___________ (originally Article I, sec. 6, renumbered by Chapter 681, Acts of 1977, ratified Nov. 7, 1978).

backroomfrederick

"to the best of my skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully"

Oh boy...

chesapeakecountry

LOL ALL lies. you guys keep making it up as you go and shooting in the dark. Shameful at best ....but not unexpected.

dadadata

Open Meetings Act facts, part 2:

http://www.igsr.umd.edu/VLC/OMA/class_oma_intro1.php is the link for the state's online training course in this law. It is inactive until Oct. 1 because some parts have to be changed.

Changes in the law effective Oct. 1. --

In a nutshell they are (1) at least one person associated with any public body must have a training course within six months of the law's effective date. Which is Oct. 1.

(2) If a board is found to have violated the law, they have 30 days to explain and review the violation in a public meeting. The explanation must come from a member or members of the public body; not an attorney or a secretary.

(3) Open Meetings Compliance Board findings will be admissible as evidence in lawsuits which allege deliberate violation of the Open Meetings law. That was not true before.

niles_johson

The county attorney is a legal acrobat when it comes to flexibility. No one ever does anything unethical nor are any rules violated.

Amazing.

BstD59

He defends the indefensible at taxpayer's expense no less.

darththevader

More frivolous law suits at the taxpayers expense.

watson4sherlock

Because the BOCC makes bad decisions and doesn't value that they represent the people who elected them not themselves. Perhaps the people can pursue reimbursement from the commissioners' personal assets.

watson4sherlock

Nobody thought the corporate shield could be broken either but it was to get to the personal assets of corporate officers.

dadadata

Open Meetings Act facts:

An Open Meetings Act complaint isn't a lawsuit.

The only expense involved is for the county attorney's time to respond to the complaint.

Anyone who is designated by the public body can write the response. For example, one of the board members. An attorney is not required.

fredneckforever

Hey blainethevader, did you tear up the check yet? [lol]

dbjanda1

If these perceived violations of ethical rules are exposed what other incidents are being kept from taxpayers...Obviously, the BoCC doesn't know the difference, perhaps they need a county paid overseer to protect the citizens and taxpayers from their ignorance...Me

usgov

Frederick County voters have gotten buyers remorse with these cronies.

Baylock

Hey Chessie they should investigate you

fredneckforever

[beam][thumbup]

chesapeakecountry

Why? Because I disagree with you? This is the typical response from your type: "If you disagree with me you must be punished or investigated"....[scared]

chesapeakecountry

What a waste of taxpayer money. The filers should be sent the bill for conducting this useless investigation that will have absolutely ZERO impact on anything.

watson4sherlock

It might kept them from being reelected because it will be harder for them to claim they didn nothing wrong.

frederickdad

Chessie is doing a great job of being an apologist for Blaine and the BOCC. You want to protect your right leaning Government no matter what they do. So Chessie, how do you propose that we hold our government acountable for its actions other than the 2nd Ammendment?

chesapeakecountry

I'm not protecting,apologizing, or putting up for anyone. I am just stating the facts however uncomfortable they may be to some. This ethics board has zero power to do anything other than push paper around and waste taxpayer money. If you want an ethics board then give them some teeth or else disband it. The best way to hold the government accountable is through the voting booth. Unfortunately all other avenues afforded the public appear to only pay lip service these days.

KellyAlzan

Voting people out of office is not the answer.

Not following the rules or the laws is unethical.

If it was easy as merely voting people out of office, then politicians would go hog wild with not following rules / laws.

BstD59

Unfortunately Blaine and his puppets are in office for 4 years, and without a recall measure the voter's voices are all they have until the next election. Hopefully they are loud enough and clear enough so that they can hold them accountable in the next election. It's disheartening that there is no recourse available other than our voices once someone is elected to office and then proceed to do whatever they want because they know they can't be held accountable until the next election.

fredneckforever

[thumbdown][offtopic][spam][ban][happybirthday][censored]

watson4sherlock

If the county has legal problems why should it be kept from the people who's taxes are going to pay for the legal battle and fines?

fredneckforever

"The open meetings board in mid-August found that commissioners Billy Shreve, Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter violated the Open Meetings Act by participating in a radio show that addressed the potential sale of Citizens and Montevue. The open meetings board has an advisory role and cannot impose penalties or issue orders.


Then forward it to someone who can!!!!!!!!!

watson4sherlock

You're it. Impeach them now or don't vote these dudes back into office.

Baylock

Blaine Young should have his own state like somewhere in the South Pacific on an island where he can commune with all the sharks.

BstD59

What did those poor sharks in the South Pacific ever do to you that you would wish Blaine Young on them?[smile]

Baylock

Typical Blaine Young tactic. Closed door sessions so the democratic process can again be usurped by the few. This is still a democracy run by the people and for the people and NOT a Roman style Republic as some commentators would like us to believe for the advancement of their own private issues.

japorciento

Is this why Young wants to secede from the state; so he can hide his affairs, write (and enforce/not enforce) his own laws? Secret meetings. These guys should have learned something from the last time they did this and got caught.

Thanks to the FNP and to Sonja Sperlich for keeping it real!

armillary

They're all of one mind said Mathias
they've never shown anyone bias
their decisions, we assume
were made in the womb
and they've never been rude or impious. [innocent]

pixie-dust

You're getting better all the time, armillary!

fredneckforever

Hopefully one day they wil be held acountable for their actions. That will be a great day!!!!! [tongue]

frederickinsider

Open government for some. Not all.

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