- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Protesting our government and holding it accountable are fundamental rights we enjoy as Americans and have enjoyed for as long as our Republic has existed. I strongly support both of these principles.
But, the truth matters. The writer of a recent letter to the editor [“Stage is set for unwanted growth in Chesapeake Beach, Feb. 8, The Calvert Recorder] clearly attended a different Chesapeake Beach Town Council meeting than the one I attended as a member of that body. His version of what transpired is his version. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match what happened.
The council had before it an agenda item to award a contract in excess of $16 million for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. These upgrades were mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment. They were necessary to reduce the amount of nutrients the plant discharged into the Chesapeake Bay. These same requirements have been imposed on every other treatment plant in the five states that border the bay. Quite simply, if the town does not upgrade the plant, we face tens of thousands of dollars in fines. This agenda item had nothing at all to do with increasing capacity. That issue was settled in June 2005 when council members Pat Mahoney, Valerie Beaudin, Stewart Cumbo, James Parent, Bruce Wahl and Barbara Jo Finch voted unanimously to increase capacity at the plant from 1.18 million gallons per day (MGD) to 1.5 MGD. And, in January 2011, the issue of increasing capacity at the plant was again confirmed when council members Mahoney, Beaudin, Ingrid Lamb and Julie Spano all voted for the Comprehensive Plan of the Town of Chesapeake Beach. The three votes Jan. 17 had nothing at all to do with increasing capacity at the plant. The vote dealt only with authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with the lowest bidder for the mandated plant upgrade. At no time in the four years that I have served on the council has anyone put forth a resolution to decrease the capacity that was agreed upon in 2005.
Clearly, Mr. Mahoney and Ms. Beaudin had read the comprehensive plan because they offered numerous amendments to it — none of which dealt with reducing capacity. I did not serve on the council in June 2005 and, therefore, did not vote to increase the capacity of the plant. I voted against the comprehensive plan in January 2011, as did Mr. Cumbo. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Mahoney and Ms. Beaudin have twice voted to either increase capacity of the plant or sustain that increased capacity. I have never voted to increase capacity of the plant. So, why then were Mr. Cumbo and I called out in this letter to the editor as suspected advocates of unwanted growth? It appears to me that Mr. Mahoney and Ms. Beaudin are the real advocates of unwanted growth. At least their votes in June 2005 and January 2011 would indicate that.
The letter writer also did not disclose the monetary consequences of not awarding the contract. The town solicited bids for the upgrade of the plant, which were received and opened in late November. The town, together with its partners (the Town of North Beach, Calvert County and Anne Arundel County), sought and obtained approximately $8 million in grants to complete this project. The town, again with its partners, also sought and obtained approximately $8 million in loans to complete it. The contract had to be awarded so that work could be completed within the time frame outlined by MDE. Had the contract not been awarded, the town risked losing the funding and faced the potential of a lawsuit from our partners, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in fines from MDE, which would not have been a one-time fine, but would have been ongoing each day we did not complete the upgrade and reduction in pollution to the bay. Not approving the awarding of this project could potentially have cost every utility ratepayer in Chesapeake Beach more than $2,500. In addition, the ongoing thousands of dollars in fines faced by the town would have been passed onto the ratepayers. Every ratepayer would be on the hook for thousands of dollars in costs and fines.
Later, in the same letter, the writer accuses me, along with Mayor Wahl and Mr. Cumbo, of refusing to approve campaign finance reporting. That issue has never come before the council while I have been a member. The writer knows I have been working for several years with Mr. Mahoney and other citizens of our town to craft an Election Code amendment to address the issue of campaign finance reporting. He knows it will be introduced at our February 2013 meeting and voted upon at our March 2013 meeting, well in advance of the 2016 town election. He knows this because I announced it at our January 2013 meeting.
He also cites the similarity of the postal permit used by myself and others in mailing correspondence to the voters. My campaign used a local firm, which is owned by a local family and employs local people. Why is that wrong? Why is it wrong that others used the same firm? Is the author advocating that we don’t buy local? I think the Bay Business Group would take issue with that. The author and others have accused me of being bought and paid for by outside interests and running a “massive, high-dollar attack campaign.” Every dollar I received for my campaign was local. Had the letter writer asked or cared, he would have seen that every one of my signs was recycled from four years ago. The signs my late wife, Pat, and I personally bought four years ago were the signs that appeared around town last year.
Accuse me of a lot of things, but never question my integrity. If anyone believes I can be bought for a campaign contribution of any amount, they don’t know me. At the end of the day, the only thing I have is my reputation. I sleep well at night. I hope the Feb. 8 letter writer can say the same.
Bob Carpenter, Chesapeake Beach
The writer is a councilman for the Town of Chesapeake Beach.