Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

At the Sept. 24 meeting of the Charles County Planning Commission, Vice Chairman Joe Richard threw a tantrum. At the Oct. 1 meeting, Mr. Richard, the unofficial leader of the Gang of Four, the pro-developer majority on the commission, aggressively drove home a vote of censure, on a motion by Lou Grasso, against Chairman Courtney Edmonds. The sole stated content and purpose of the motion was an expression of disapproval of Mr. Edmonds’ leadership.

The single specific instance of this supposed failure of leadership that the Gang of Four cited as they passed the motion Oct. 1 was the failure by Mr. Edmonds to keep Mr. Richard from throwing his tantrum the previous week. Mr. Richard, rather than taking responsibility for his own actions, falsely accused member Joe Tieger of having provoked him.

Murrary Levy, a former commissioner and delegate and in the paid service of the developers, is involved in this. Members of the pro-developer majority, in the Sept. 24 meeting, made speeches implying they wanted to silence criticism of Levy by citizens who have pointed out Levy’s role as a lobbyist for the developers, and how consistent it is with the role he played when he was an elected official. Mr. Tieger defended the right of the citizens to voice criticism. This criticism has been harsh at times, but Levy and some of the commission members deserve it, and the criticism is founded on fact.

None of this criticism was out of bounds, but Mr. Richard is. On Sept. 24, Mr. Richard bellowed at the top of his lungs, nearly incoherently, and what he was saying was false. Mr. Richard claimed that Mr. Tieger had impugned his patriotism. Mr. Tieger had done nothing of the kind. He just reminded those present that free speech is a fundamental American value and that the people should be allowed to speak. Rather than accept blame for his misbehavior, Mr. Richard tries to deflect that blame onto others. We need character and responsibility in those entrusted with decision making.

In discussing the censure of Mr. Edmonds, the majority implied that Edmonds was out of order in not silencing the citizens who want to speak their grievances against the developers’ lobby. When the developers’ lobby gins up crowds to attack and jeer Edmonds, Edmonds at every turn tells the citizens who criticize him that he applauds them for speaking their minds. On Sept. 24, Mr. Richard stated that Mr. Levy should not be criticized by the public because Levy is now a private citizen, not an elected official.

I think President Obama must have gone to the county website and watched the video of the Sept. 24 meeting because the next day, at the United Nations, he said: “As president of our country and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day. And I will always defend their right to do so.” The people would be better served if commission members thought of themselves less as an imperial court and more like public servants.

I urge people to view the videos of the meetings. At the end of the Oct. 1 meeting, see the vote to censure Mr. Edmonds and his incredibly powerful, concise and inspiring response. His statement will be one of the best civics lessons your children could ever have.

Alex Winter, Bryans Road