Thursday, June 23, 2011

Queen Anne's Cronies

Last week, the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners appointed Jim Moran to the county's Planning Commission. The vote was 3-2. Commissioners Arentz, Dumenil and Olds voted to appoint Mr. Moran. Commissioners Dunmyer and Simmons opposed the appointment.

Jim Moran is the owner of Increte of Maryland (you can check them out here: Increte is a decorative concrete company out of Crofton. Jim and I served together on the Task Force on Government Sustainability this Winter and early Spring; he was always professional, thorough and well-prepared. He also had a clear agenda: the promotion of growth as the solution to the county's problems. It was by no means a secret that Jim Moran saw more roads, more houses, and more business parks as the solution to what ails Queen Anne's County. But we'll come back to that.

The County Commissioners had received several applications for appointment to the Planning Commission. This is where the problems start. Included in the packet of applications, was a professional architect with experience working in Queen Anne's County. Another application for appointment was from a professional planner, that's right, a professional planner, with an impeccable resume.

But neither of those two candidates, qualified as they might have been, were going to do much good for the likes of Arentz, Dumenil and Olds. No, they needed a known quantity, someone they could count on to be a solid vote for growth on the Planning Commission. So they turned down a certified planner, for Jim Moran.

This is a fairly predictable state of affairs; Arentz and his followers on the Board vote blindly for their friends without considering what's best for Queen Anne's County. They make no attempt to get Jim Moran's opinions on the Comprehensive Plan (which as a member of the Planning Commission he will be expected to implement) nor did they ask any questions of Jim about his vision for the county. At least not that the public knows of. In fact, the public doesn't know what the county commissioners asked any of the applicants, because over the objection of Commissioners Dunmyer and Simmons, the board's deliberation over the Planning Commission appointment was done in closed session.

Public appointments to public commissions should be made in public. But Arentz, Dumenil and Olds wanted to be able to discuss the applicants "candidly," without the glare of the public. It seems likely that Arentz knew the public would never stand for such an obvious and odious case of cronyism, so he made the anointment, err, appointment, behind closed doors. As far as I am concerned, this is a blatant abuse of powers, I prefer that a real estate agent, an insurance salesman and a retired firefighter not have the right to determine which discussions the public can be a part of, and which they should be excluded from. This is an outrage. Who are Steve Arentz, Phil Dumenil and Dave Olds to decide what the public needs to know?

Of course, Arentz and his cohorts are well aware of Moran's vision for the County, he couldn't have been any more clear about that during the Task Force. They also likely know that Moran shares their dim view of the comprehensive plan. This is the whole purpose for his appointment, he will be a rubber stamp for growth in any form.

If this keeps up, this appointing cronies to various commissions, it won't be long before these commissions cease to function properly. The Planning Commission serves an important role in Queen Anne's County, namely to make sure that proposed development meets the needs of all of our citizens, both now and in the future. The Planning Commission must serve as a backstop for landowner and developer desires, can Jim Moran be expected to fill this role?

All through the campaign of last summer, I had to sit through candidate forums and listen to Steve Arentz, Phil Dumenil, and Dave Olds say that they didn't want to pave the county. When a website called Pave Our County cropped up, Arentz, Dumenil and Olds were indignant that anyone would claim that was indeed their intention. Yet what better way to pave the county, than to appoint a paver to the Planning Commission?

1 comment:

Dusty said...

2 out of 5 ain't bad,3 out of 5 are!