Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Interesting Times at City Hall

George Wenschhof

One has to wonder these days, what is going on in city hall in The City of Frederick, Maryland?

Republican Mayor Randy McClement followed his bizarre scheduling of a city workshop on an ill advised discussion on a vote by mail election, held days before Christmas, with an equally disturbing request for $28,000 to pay for a lobbyist, held just days after the New Year celebration.

Advancing the idea of a hotel/convention center to be built in downtown Frederick is a good idea. It has the support of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Frederick Partnership as well as Frederick Tourism.

In addition, a symbolic memorandum of understanding was reached between the city and county governments; the signing of which was a mere formality. Bipartisan support is also there from the Frederick County state delegation, signaling strong support to assist in obtaining available state funding for the project.

However, once again the Mayor has clearly shown an inability to effectively advance an issue by consistently failing to communicate with his board of aldermen and with the voters who put him in city hall.

The latest request for money to pay for a lobbyist was hastily put together and poorly justified, with the belief the votes were there for quick passage. Interestingly, the lobbyist job duties listed by the mayor were mostly administrative in nature and easily handled by existing staff.

The renegotiation of existing airport leases to bring them to market rate is but one of the administrative duties listed to justify the hiring of a lobbyist. This is a federal requirement for the release of 13.6 million in federal funds for the planned airport expansion. This requirement has been known for some time and the fact this has not been done reflects poorly on the mayor.

With the Frederick county state delegation already on board, a lobbyist is not needed for this project.

Standing in the way of quick approval for the lobbyist request was Alderman Karen Young, who in spite of support from her three Democratic colleagues on the board, cried foul and asked the simple question; “Why was this needed”?

A good question considering the wheels had already been greased for advancement of a hotel/convention center in downtown Frederick.

When I spoke with Alderman Young she told me she had never been talked to in regard to the hiring of a lobbyist. Young has made no secret she is weighing the possibility of running for mayor in 2013. All the more reason Mayor McClement should have spoken to her.

What is needed, more than a lobbyist, according to multiple sources is an update of the feasibility study for the project which was done several years ago. At a cost of around twenty-five thousand, the update is needed to help secure available state funding for the project.

The mayor would be wise to drop the ill advised request for a lobbyist and instead clearly explain the need for an update of the feasibility study, asking for private and public funds to pay for it.

Two years into his first term, Mayor McClement continues to shun the media, refusing to hold press conferences and only communicating with his board of aldermen by holding individual monthly meetings with his executive assistant always present.

This is a less than satisfactory manner, to accomplish anything of merit, for the citizens of Frederick. Instead, his approach has led to many questionable outcomes.

Whether, it was the long dragged out clumsy Request For Proposal for the lease of Harry Grove Stadium which resulted in a less than satisfactory lease for city taxpayers, the lengthy and inconclusive Fraternal Order of Police negotiations, a bicycle path to nowhere on W. Seventh Street, a highly questionable vote by mail proposal, the inability to secure millions in federal funds for the airport expansion and now a unexplainable need for a lobbyist, the mayor continues to fail to exhibit the basic management skills required of his office.

The City of Frederick deserves better leadership - voters should demand it.


To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

No comments: