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Cubbedge cleared of ethics complaint

(4/5)  Earlier this year, when Mayor Martin Burns asked for citizens to let him know whether or not they approved of the potential Myers Farm annexation, Planning and Zoning Commission Member Randy Cubbedge said he did and signed the straw poll for himself and his family.

Someone who was standing nearby and heard him express his position to the mayor took exception and filed an ethics complaint against Cubbedge. The town’s ethics committee heard the case on Feb. 26 and voted on it at the time. However, Cubbedge had to wait three weeks before being notified of the decision.

“I was exonerated,” Cubbedge said.

The two-page opinion from the ethics commission says the committee looked at prohibited activities covered by the ethics ordinance and “found the activities described in the complaint did not violate any of the provisions of this section of the ordinance.”

“I’m very glad to know as a citizen that I can express my opinion on a controversial subject in Thurmont,” Cubbedge said.

Because of his experience with the ethics commission, on Mar. 20, Cubbedge asked two things of the town commissioners. 1) That they put together a workshop between the town attorney and the citizen committees to explain to them what their obligations and restraints are under the town’s ethics ordinance. 2) That when the commission makes a decision, they let the subject of the complaint know the outcome. In Cubbedge’s case, though the commission voted on Feb. 26, Cubbedge did not receive notice of that vote until Mar. 20.

“I spent three weeks of wondering if what I had done was in violation. It’s not a good feeling,” Cubbedge said.

The commissioners agreed that both requests were good ideas that they would follow-up on.

Following Cubbedge’s request, Burns noted that Cubbedge’s ethics case was a symptom of a problem on the planning and zoning commission. Two factions within the committee are so entrenched in their positions that they aren’t willing to compromise.

Burns said instead of trying to work together, they are “throwing it to the ethics committee trying to get them [opposing viewpoints] disqualified.”

He encouraged the committee members to compromise. They might not get everything they want, but they can at least get something that would acceptable. The planning and zoning commission is in the middle of considering two possible large annexations into the town and drawing up the new town master plan that will guide growth for the next 25 years.

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