Commissioner candidate charged after conflict with Taneytown council

Katherine Adelaide, a Republican candidate in the District 1 race for county commissioner, was served with a criminal summons following a conflict at a meeting of the Taneytown Mayor and City Council.

Adelaide, 61, of Taneytown, was charged with refusal to leave public building or grounds, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. A summons was issued Tuesday, according to electronic court records.

According to the statement of charges, the Taneytown Mayor and City Council met for a yearly council retreat on Feb. 24. Mayor James McCarron convened an open meeting at 8 a.m., saying there would be no public comment during the meeting. Referring to a posted agenda that called for a closed session, McCarron called for a motion and a vote to close the session.

Adelaide, who is not a member of the council, then left the public viewing area and “interjected herself … both physically and verbally” into the proceedings, according to the statement.

Adelaide said she objected when she felt the council entered into a closed session illegally. “Citizens have a right to attend. They have a right to make an objection if the closing statement is not correct,” she said.

In video footage of the meeting, Adelaide can be seen approaching the council table and objecting to the procedure by which the council went into closed session.

The council then voted unanimously to go into closed session. City Manager Henry Heine informed Adelaide that she could wait in an adjacent room until the conclusion of the closed session. Adelaide did not leave, according to the statement.

“I’m here as a volunteer administrative assistant,” she said, to verbal protest from members of the council.

She told the group that she objected to the fact that the mayor had not produced a signed written summary that stated the specific reasons for going into closed session. Multiple individuals present continued to ask her to leave.

“These are not specific enough,” she said, referring to the reasons stated in the agenda.

“[If] we’ve been doing it wrong for 35 years, 33 years, we’re going to do it wrong one more time,” McCarron retorted on the video.

The reasons for the closed meeting are listed as “receiving legal advice” on a “personnel decision-making authority,” “code enforcement action,” “‘small cell’ legislative strategy / implication” and “Frazier vs. City of Taneytown lawsuit” in the agenda posted on the Taneytown website.

According to the statement of charges, council members made motions to adjourn the meeting at 8:08 a.m., “as no business could be conducted due to the continual outburst and interruptions.” The retreat was rescheduled for Saturday, March 10.

When contacted for comment, Adelaide said: “The charges are completely false, and they are retaliation for my years of activism in Taneytown.”

She is retaining a lawyer and said she feels she will be vindicated.

She said she attended the open meeting because she saw the Frazier name on the agenda for the closed meeting. In 2017, Adelaide testified in an Open Meetings Act lawsuit against the city. Robin Bartlett Frazier, the wife of Councilman Donald Frazier, was the plaintiff in that case. A judge hearing the case ruled the Taneytown Mayor and City Council did not willfully violate the Maryland Open Meetings Act when it held a closed meeting on June 22, 2016. Robin Bartlett Frazier has appealed the ruling.

Adelaide also questioned why the agenda for the Feb. 24 retreat, posted on Feb. 23, did not contain the wording “notice of an open meeting.”

In regard to the charges, she expressed disappointment that police did not interview her before charges were filed, though they did interview members of the Taneytown City Council.

“Using local police to shut down citizens ... that really burns me up,” she said.

She fears the charges against her will have an adverse effect on citizen participation in local government.

“They’re going to be afraid to come to meetings and when they see [the charges], they’re going to be more afraid,” she said.

A court date is scheduled for May 22.

Adelaide is running against incumbent Commissioner Stephen Wantz in the District 1 Republican primary. The primary election is June 26, with early voting June 14. Adelaide ran for Taneytown City Council in 2017 and finished fourth in voting for three seats.

crighter@baltsun.com

410-857-3315

twitter.com/Cat_Righter

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
63°