Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


If Demands Met, Terpko to Drop Suit

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(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 members.

"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 police commission.

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 wronged.

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.

Read Other Articles on Thurmont