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On the Charter Writing Board petitioners

County Commissioner Blaine Young

(June, 2011) Okay, here we go…Act Two of the Charter Writing Board petitioners. They have now received the services of former County Commissioner John L. "Lennie" Thompson, Jr., at no charge, and have filed for a judicial review of the Frederick County Board of Election’s disqualification of their petition calling for a special election to elect members to sit on the Charter Writing Board. Their efforts were invalidated after being notified by the Board of Elections that they had not obtained the required 2,000 valid signatures to have a special election within 30 to 90 days called by the Commissioners per the Maryland State Constitution.

Now am I surprised? No.

Am I surprised they did not get the 2,000 valid signatures? No.

Am I surprised they want to take this issue to court? Again, the answer is no.

Why was I not surprised that they did not get the required 2,000 valid signatures? Well, they only turned in 2,915 signatures (not 2,856 as they first thought and claimed). Heck they did not even know how many signatures they turned in!

The majority of those putting their names forward for consideration to be placed on the ballot and those helping gather signatures were lead by Kai Hagan (Envision) and Janice Wiles (Friends of Frederick), who are arrogant, self-serving, self righteous individuals, the type who know what is best for you and your family.

What do I mean by that you ask? Well it is simple, they had an opportunity to sit down with the Board of Elections and have the process and procedure explained to them so they could alleviate any issues or problems with getting valid signatures. Did they take the Board of Elections up on this opportunity? No, but Board of Elections Director, Stuart Harvey, did correspond via email to help them remedy some issues, but even then they were too arrogant to take his advice. This did not and does not surprise me one bit.

They had several common problems that could have been corrected if they would have just asked the Board of Elections and worked with them from the beginning. These were simple issues such as putting correct dates, telling folks to use their full name, and having specific information on the petition that is required by the state constitution. It was not anything mind-boggling.

At first Kai Hagan and Janice Wiles claimed no real involvement other than moral support and encouragement, however as time went on we all found out their true involvement and it was much more than moral support and encouragement. They were doing all they could to help the petitioners get the required 2,000 valid signatures.

Now, they had 30 days from the day the Board of County Commissioners appointed the Charter Board and they could only muster 2,915 signatures. I say this only because, with 10 plus people involved in this effort, if each of them would have gotten just 15 signatures per day that would have equaled 150 per day combined. There would have been 4,500 signatures gathered in the 30 days. So as you can see, they did not really want it that badly, or the majority of them were not willing to work that hard for it, or were not able to convince voters why we needed a special election to select who would write the proposed charter that would be put on the ballot for a vote.

If they would have turned in 3,500 to 4,000 signatures, I would have said they had a great chance of getting 2,000 valid signatures. I know Ellis Burris, one of the organizers, who worked hard, and I personally like Ellis. I do not agree with his politics. But if he would not have relied on Janice Wiles, who supposedly had a lot of knowledge on petitions and was used as a resource to educate the organizers, maybe his own signature would have been validated.

You heard me correctly; the lead organizer did not have his own signature validated because of an incorrect dating issue. The person they used as a lead resource on how to correctly do a petition, Janice Wiles, signed the petition twice! One signature counted and one was thrown out.

My colleague and Frederick County Commissioner David Gray, who participated in the selection process for the current Charter Writing Board, and who never objected to the process, had many of the signatures he collected thrown out because of a dating issue. Heck, he even signed the petition. His signature was thrown out with the note "PAGE – Petition Format" a processing issue. But his wife’s signature was accepted. Now, I do not understand why David collected signatures for the petition and personally donated to the petitioners cause with money. Only he can answer that question.

I do not know if the petitioners will win their judicial review or not but they have not earned it and they have not explained to the taxpayers of Frederick why we need to spend $250,000 on a special election to select a new charter writing board when they have not shown that they are open minded, have a willingness to learn, or are even smart enough to follow a simple state petition gathering process. If they can’t do that I could only imagine what type of charter they would write.

Thank you for your time and this space. This is my opinion and only my opinion. Maybe I should not speak my mind sometimes, but I could no longer bite my lip on this issue.

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