New board having problems
James Rada, Jr.
new Thurmont Board of Commissioners is
experiencing some “growing pains” as one
official described it that has led to some
tension among the members as this new board
tries to find a way to work together.
Mayor Martin Burns recently held a meeting
with town government branch heads and town
staff to introduce Bill Blakeslee as the chief
administrative officer and explain how the
town’s “chain of command” should now work.
Following those meetings, Commissioner Glenn
Muth approached the branch heads to ask about
what happened in the meetings and they
wouldn’t talk to him about.
Muth wrote in an e-mail The Dispatch obtained
through the freedom of information request
that, “It is just not right that Dept. Heads
have been told not to talk to us. I predict
that will change Tuesday evening.”
Burn wrote back, in part, “I don’t have any
idea what you’re talking about. I have not
instructed the department Heads not to talk to
you, ever. That would be pretty stupid.”
Burns also took Muth’s comment to mean that
his intent was to change the mayor’s powers in
the town charter that was approved in
February, which the commissioners are
“We took 5 years with a charter code review
committee, we used a model charter from the
University of Maryland’s Institute for
Governmental services, we dissected every
ounce of our old charter, held many public
meetings and we voted to approve it. It was
not done in a vacuum, and everything was up
front, in public. Is it everything to
everyone? No, and it will never be. We all
gave a little, and took a little, to make a
great new document,” Burns wrote.
He then asked Muth to show him, where he had
either abused his power under the new charter
or the charter hadn’t worked in the nine
months it had been active.
Burns wrote another e-mail to Blakeslee to
have him issue a memo to town employees
stating that no information should be withheld
from a commissioner.
Burns said during the Nov. 20 town meeting if
anyone had taken anything he said during the
staff meeting as an order to not speak to the
commissioners, it was “gross
mischaracterization of his comments.”
Blakeslee also told the commissioners that the
department heads had told him that they hadn’t
been told they couldn’t talk with the
Muth used the lack of communication as a
reason to have commissioner liaisons to all
the town departments, which was a duty that
Blakeslee had been assigned.
“For me personally, I’d like to have a
department to be closer to it and learn more
about it,” Muth said.
Burns pointed out that any commissioner could
speak with any town employee about anything.
They had that right even if they weren’t the
liaison. However, “I believe historically the
commissioners have been the bosses of
department heads in the past,” Burns said.
Commissioner Ron Terpko said it wasn’t a
matter of taking away duties from the chief
administrative officer. “I like that personal
interaction and I think that’s gone by the
wayside,” Terpko said.
The commissioners eventually agreed that
Blakeslee should continue to serve as the
liaison to town departments but that
commissioners, as always, had to right to
speak with and get information from town
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