Fate of proposed district map revision is old song, sung by new players

Sometimes politics in Carroll County resemble Kabuki Theater. Everyone knows the plot, and the only matter of interest is the pronunciation of the expected script and the stylized movements of the actors.

Such is the current play entitled "Drafting a New Commissioner District Map."

You may remember the last performance a few years ago, in which three Democrats on the redistricting committee and one representative of the county voted for one particular option — a sensible map with compact districts — but the delegation to Annapolis (all Republicans of course) chose another option, designed to "unelect" then Commissioners Perry Jones and Julia Gouge.

The 2011 performance thus far follows the old script, but with minor variations, with the old, rejected option once again surfacing.

But a new actor has taken the stage. When C. Scott Stone, a member of the redistricting committee, submitted the old, rejected option to become the new boundary map based on 2010 census data, it had the requisite facts and figures on population attached.

Stone is no amateur, and I would suggest he had it nailed down.

But somehow that part of the submission got lost on the way to the delegation.

Regardless, you may be sure that some excuse will be found to keep the districts the way they exist now — with Taneytown in the same district as Manchester, and Mount Airy in the same District as Union Bridge.

Meanwhile, back at the County Office Building, the battle continues between the faction of commissioners Richard Rothschild and Robin Frazier and the other members of the Board of County Commissioners.

Sometimes, the sensible faction consists only of Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, but he often finds enough allies to rein in the wild bunch. Such an alliance voted down a move to abolish the requirement for sprinkler systems in new construction.

The hiring of Jim Simpson as a "consultant" to take care of county public relations was, as Shoemaker noted, in itself a public relations disaster. That farce has closed, thank goodness.

But the elevation of Rothschild to vice president of the board is not, I believe, a good sign.

We won't have an opportunity to elect new commissioners until 2014 — but perhaps that's time enough to revive the former coalition of slow growth citizens and organizations.

Right now, Carroll County schools are not badly overcrowded, although the continued presence of portable classrooms on school campuses is a disturbing indicator.

A terrible economy has had the major role in keeping residential building in check. When the economy turns around, the bulldozers will be active again. If the good guys are to win they need to get busy, as they were in 2002.

New leaders are needed. And current leaders need to be asked to declare their positions on residential growth, and demonstrate by their actions that it's not just election year talk.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg.

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