The county should not attempt to undo the sale of Citizens-Montevue to Aurora Health Management by invoking eminent domain.

County Executive Jan Gardner asserts that the county’s contract to sell the facility to Aurora is so bad that she has decided to invoke eminent domain to take all property rights back from Aurora. I strongly disagree with the executive’s premise that this was a bad deal. The long history of operational losses (of at least $43 million over a 13-year period) is more than sufficient support for selling an operation that serves only 60 needy seniors, at an excessive cost. But here are additional reasons not to attempt to revoke the sale to Aurora.

The right to use eminent domain to acquire property does not exist to allow a governmental entity to get out of a bad contract, yet that is the main reason given by the executive. Eventually, the executive will realize this, and then she will seek a pretext to cover her actions. Then she will have problems.

The executive contends she has an absolute right to take over the Aurora lease. But one case has held that the property of a private corporation cannot be taken for the same use because no public use or necessity can be served by such a taking. That is an issue the executive must face. In Aurora’s case, the county reserved the right to pay, if it chooses, for the care of 60 select seniors. This means the county is already able to provide for this “public use,” although the county has declined to do so. Thus, the taking proposed by the executive may not qualify. And serving only 60 people hardly constitutes a public use.

The executive asserts that $800,000 is all that is needed to compensate Aurora for taking its property rights. This is laughable. That figure ignores all the elements of property rights for which the county would have to compensate Aurora — the value of the real property, the buildings on the property and the business. The appraisal used by the executive to arrive at the $800,000 figure is fatally flawed. To begin with, it is based on the erroneous premise that the court has ruled that the real property cannot be conveyed to Aurora, and that Aurora is trying to overturn such a decision. This is not true. The court has not made such a ruling. Both the county’s attorneys and Aurora’s attorneys fully expect the court to uphold the sale of the land.

In addition, “just compensation” in eminent domain cases is the amount that will compensate the property owner for the full extent of its loss. If the Citizens-Montevue facility were really worth $38 million (as the executive contends), then the county would have to compensate Aurora for $8 million, plus whatever else Aurora has paid toward the purchase, plus any other increased business value due to Aurora’s operation of the facility. By taking the position that $800,000 is all it would take to compensate Aurora, she implicitly denies her argument that the sale was a bad deal. In any event, if the executive ever should somehow succeed in taking the property by eminent domain, then she and the rest of the county will find out soon enough that the damages due to Aurora will be many times greater than the erroneous $800,000 figure.

Why does the county want to get back into the nursing home/assisted living business again? The county would have to increase the number of county employees by 200 — at a projected cost of $10 million a year. No other county in Maryland does this. The senior needs survey recommended that the county care for its needy seniors by helping them age in their homes. The executive seeks to take over the facility in order to provide assistance for only 60 needy seniors, when there are an estimated 500-plus other seniors who could use the same help. Does she propose to build another eight assisted-living facilities to meet this need? Does she propose to provide equal financial assistance to all similarly situated needy seniors? No!

Operating a nursing home and an assisted living facility requires considerable expertise. And during her 12 years as a commissioner, the executive showed that she could not run the operation profitably. The county already has the right to pick out 60 lucky seniors and provide a place for them in the assisted-living facility. No one with business sense would encourage the county to attempt to run a nursing home/assisted living business. When the Board of County Commissioners got out of this business and disconnected itself from the financial risks of such an operation, the county received a higher outlook on our bond rating.

The executive is obsessed with re-acquiring Citizens-Montevue. But if she succeeds, it will be a Pyrrhic victory; it will cost the county far more than the benefits it will bring.

The county would do well to follow the recommendations of the senior needs survey and seek ways to provide the same benefits to all similarly situated needy seniors — not just a lot of benefits to a select few.

C. Paul Smith

is a former county commissioner. He writes from Frederick.

(19) comments

richardlyons

There is a reason you were not elected Mr. Smith, your credibility is in tatters.

b1sellers

You are wrong and you lose. The citizens spoke and Jan listened. Thank you Jan Gardner for undoing this horrible deal of Blaine and his cronies.

quemzeee2

Thank you for your thoughts Mr. Smith. You make alot of sense no doubt about it. We still can not help but doubt your track record for large managment directions. You make all the sense in the world verbaly. Looking back it apears your words fall short of actuality. I believe you were the one who engineered all those speed bumps and circles in your neighborhood. And blocked the homes purchased from being set up as group homes in your neighborhood. It apears you are kind of deceptive? dosent it?

DickD

Paul, I don't know when you wrote this, but you are obviously too late with it. It is a moot point, you get used to it, the rest of us like what Jan has and is doing for us.

Sallyforth

[thumbup]

FrederickFan

Poor Paul Smith. By the time his letter got into print today, County Executive Gardner had already settled the Nursing Homes case, without using eminent domain. She saved taxpayers tens of $ millions by getting the County out of the terrible deal to sell the assets at a loss and pay Aurora Health for patients that don't exist, and avoiding a costly, extended legal battle in court.

For four years Paul Smith was used as a tool by Blaine Young to help Young destroy Frederick County, including using him to vote for the destruction of the nursing homes.

Before that, Alderman Paul Smith cost Frederick City taxpayers $ millions by orchestrating the tragic "employee buyout" that paid huge bonuses to long term employees who retired and where then hired right back. This action helped to decimate funding of the pension fund that continues to haunt the City to this day.

Paul Smith was the guy who wrote the now infamous "FACT" letter that tainted the record on the Monrovia Town Center.

So wherever he goes, Paul Smith does terrible damage to those who are foolish enough to vote for him to represent them.

DickD

Good summary, FF!

MAVRICKinc7

Paul Smith is right on Q after being paid off by the County for his participation and designed "FACT LETTER, without any tesitimony ever being taken UNDER OATH and now, AFTER MEDIATION covered him over last Friday, AGAIN without testimony under oath,is now free again, without consequence, to publish his GROUP THINK BOCC mentality again. Had Aurora not agreed to mediation, instead of there initial bluff to litigate the matter, the likes of the BOCC would have put themselves at more risk for being found out, much the same way as they did on the MTC project. and confining testimony to an AFFIDAVIT and not sworn testimoiny or cross examination. Simply said, Paul Smith, Blaine Young, Delauter Shreve and Chmelic and local FAMILY values are breathing a sigh of relief for having dodged another bullet aimed directly at them by the Frederick County citizen population. Ask yourself, who, except Paul Smith, has been scripting this attack on Jan Gardner and County Council for the past year and a half? Who, of all people in State Government and Frederick County would't want their son to be vindicated of all the descisions and strategic manipulation that Blaine and the past BOCC members like Paul Smith, Delauter, Shreve and Chmelic have brought to the table over the last 4 years or the last 10 months? They should be thanking Jan Gardner for having the DIRT and DETAILS that changed the course of THEM being found out for who and what they really are and represent, without offending or risking a FAMILY feud in our own back yards. Otherwise, why would AURORA consider withdrawing their premptive litigation strike that wasn't anything more than a bluff, just to see what Jan Gardner had on her plate, and that MEDIATION and consent by Aurora to SAVE Frederick County and their past BOCC members from embarrassing itself and more so than it already has Now, they (BOCC) are FREE to express their rights of free speech any way they want without the cloud of DISCLOSURE and continued Frederick County citizen unrest hanging over their heads. Story to be continued...

Sallyforth

Just goes to show that you don't have to be very smart to be a lawyer.

DickD

It helps to be able to pass the tests and to get a law license to be smart. If you are going to be crooked, there is even more need to be smart.

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

jerseygrl42

more trash from this phony who along with the rest of his gang, marschner and the wasteful authority continuously LIED to the citizens of this county about many issues ...none more egregious than the billion dollar boondoggle incinerator...their comments aren't worth the paper they are printed on!

cctjr64

Mr. Smith, it's not about what you, Blaine, Billy, and Kirby wanted, but the people of Frederick County wanted, regardless of the cost. You didn't listen, just like,you didn't listen to citizens about MTC.

So I'm glad you ended your LTE as "Former" commissioner and can't even say Delegate Smith, as the people spoke on that also, and you loss, just like Blaine.

Nicki

LOL, Paul-- that was a good one.

stevemckay

In light of the ACTUAL outcome of the tough negotiations led by CE Jan Gardner, I believe Paul Smith is think this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE6EP3Z0PSU

DickD

Never Mind! lol

MAVRICKinc7

Tough negotiation? Don't think so. Jan Gardner, from behind closed doors was holding all of the cards. Why else would Aurora, Young, Smith, Delauter, Shreve and Chemlic CONCEDE to MEDIATION and hiding them from publically being found out and held more accountable than even they could only imagine?

MCEDDE21

[thumbup]Jan is so much smarter than these guys. She will always hold the power position with respect to Blaine and the rest of the mini-blaine's who continue to tag along with him.

Dwasserba

Sometimes it's not about the money.

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