(12/16/2003) Commissioner Ron Terpko
said he'll drop his legal action against the town if a
satisfactory agreement can be worked out with his fellow board
"We will dismiss," Mr. Terpko said of
the declaratory judgment action he pursued regarding his
rights and powers as a commissioner. "I'll dismiss as long as
some conditions are met. ... What I put into the suit, we will
have to agree upon."
In filing the lawsuit, Mr. Terpko
wanted five points of contention resolved. He wanted access to
the minutes of closed meetings he didn't attend, to the
personnel files of town employees, and to a videotape made on
a hidden camera in the former police chief's office.
He also wanted the authority to seek
opinions or advice from the Maryland Municipal League (MML)
and access to information he believed he was entitled to as
the town's "police commissioner," the board's appointee to the
Mr. Terpko said the issues need to be
resolved for current and future boards. In addition to
affirmative decisions from the current board, he said he would
accept opinions from a non-biased third party, such as the MML,
the attorney general's office, or an attorney with extensive
municipal law experience.
"There has to be a resolution to
this," the commissioner said. "I felt that not only was I
being wronged but that the citizens of Thurmont were being
The issue came to a legal head when a
majority of the for, mer board, acting on former town attorney
Cliff Bridgford's advice, said Mr. Terpko had no right to the
information or powers requested. In April, after several
contentious months, Mr. Terpko filed his complaint in
Frederick County Circuit Court.
A judge dismissed that complaint four
months later, but Mr. Terpko was allowed to amend and refile
his request, which he did in September. He opted against
having the action served in case October's town elections
produced a board that was more amenable to his requests.
"With the current board we have," Mr.
Terpko said Tuesday night, "I don't think I need the opinion."
Still, he said he under-stood that he couldn't drop the case
because of motions filed by Mr. Bridgford.
Mr. Bridgford and Rosemary McDermott,
who represents Mr. Terpko, said the commissioner can drop the
complaint whenever he wishes.
"The ideal," Ms. McDermott said,
"would be for the legislative branch to. solve it."
Mr. Bridgford said he sent a letter to
dismiss the case to Ms. McDermott on Nov. 18. The let-ter
stated that because summonses had not been served within 60
days, he assumed her client wanted to drop the complaint.
Included was a document that, if signed and filed with the
court, would have the case dismissed with prejudice, meaning
it could not be refiled.
The document hasn't been signed, and
Mr. Terpko said he won't drop the case until a resolution is
reached on all points.
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