Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter (R) said Thursday that his Facebook comments this week had been blown out of proportion — and that he could have been more clear in what he was trying to say.
After racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend and subsequent calls to remove monuments with racial overtones, Delauter, a candidate for county executive, posted this message on Tuesday: “Growing up I never really understood how Americans could fight each other in a civil war…….. I’m starting to understand how that happened…….and how close we are to repeating history.”
In the comments below, he added: “And it wasn’t about race then and it’s not about race now. It’s always been about true freedom.”
While the post generated attention online — including blog sites Seventh State and Red Maryland — Delauter said moral outrage wasn’t necessary.
“It was a random thought. I didn’t think it was going to get blown out of proportion like it is,” Delauter said. “When I was younger, I just didn’t understand what could be so wrong that a country could fight among themselves. Seeing what goes on in this crazy world today, I think I can see how that could happen. I’m not saying I want it to happen. I’m not saying it’s gonna happen. I can see how it can happen.”
Delauter said he does believe that the primary issue driving the Civil War was states’ rights.
“The slavery was obviously part of that, but I think the crux of it was states’ rights, the South wanting to secede,” he said.
He said he thinks the primary issues of today are not based in race, but in politics.
“I don’t think the crux of our problem of what is going on is race. I think it’s a deeper problem of division from the right and the left,” Delauter said. “... The left is trying to shove everything down everyone’s throat, removing statues. Everything they want, they gotta get or they riot, they burn things down, they destroy property.”
When asked, Delauter said he “absolutely” agreed that men wielding torches and marching through the University of Virginia campus was also a hateful act.
“I don’t condone any of it. One side’s as bad as the other. We should all get together with the one common goal to make this country great,” he said.
Asked whether President Donald Trump could have done more to heal the country, Delauter responded:
“I’m not in his shoes, so I don’t want to speak to what he should or shouldn’t be doing.”
Miller on Taney
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) — who didn’t participate in an email vote by the Maryland State House Trust to remove a statue of Roger Brooke Taney — wrote a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Thursday, saying “it is insulting to our citizens for the State House Trust to vote on such a matter outside of the public eye.”
On Wednesday, three members of the four-person State House Trust voted in favor of the removal from the State House lawn: House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D), Maryland Historical Trust board Chairman Charles Edson, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R), who represents the governor on the panel.
Even on Thursday, Miller had not cast a vote in any way on the proposal to remove the statue of Taney — who started his legal career in Frederick before ascending to the Supreme Court — and is most widely known for issuing the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford on March 6, 1857. The opinion concluded that black people were not U.S. citizens and therefore Scott had no right to sue for his freedom. The opinion also said that Congress could not outlaw slavery in the territories, and inflamed sentiments in the lead-up to the Civil War.
But Miller’s letter notes that Taney also freed his slaves early in life and in his earlier legal career had a reputation for his willingness to argue cases for the benefit of slaves and free black Americans. The senate president also discussed the General Assembly’s earlier decision to erect a larger monument to Justice Thurgood Marshall — also a Maryland native and the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court — at the State House’s current entrance.
Miller wrote that the trust should have held a public meeting with discussion by all members — similar to the way legislation is passed in the General Assembly. Any urgency could have been addressed by calling an emergency meeting of the board, Miller wrote.
“A full discussion of each of our reasons for supporting either removal or retention of the statue as well as the complex history of this man and our State would only have added to the public conversation and understanding,” Miller wrote. “Voting on this matter by email was just plain wrong.”
Deschenaux to go
A familiar face in Annapolis won’t be around for the 2018 General Assembly session.
This week, Warren Deschenaux, executive director of the Department of Legislative Services, announced his retirement effective Dec. 1.
The Department of Legislative Services assists lawmakers in drafting bills and provides fiscal and policy analyses on pending legislation, including extensive reports on the state’s budget.
The General Assembly will perform a national search to replace Deschenaux.
A bipartisan General Assembly committee will oversee the interview process for Deschenaux’s replacement and will recommend candidates to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D).
“There is no person in the State that knows more about Maryland’s budget or budget process than Mr. Deschenaux,” Busch said. “He has been a trusted adviser to Democratic and Republican legislators alike.”
Miller said that Deschenaux “embodied the spirit of the Department by providing fair and honest analysis, guidance, and leadership for the state. His wise counsel, wit, and keen budget mind will be sorely missed by the entire legislature.”
The presiding officers said they will have a new executive director in place by the start of the 2018 legislative session.