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Holstein: Editorial wrong about Taxpayers Coalition motivations, Bouchat wrong about charter

I disagree with the Times’ characterization of the Carroll Taxpayers Coalition in the July 28 editorial, “Threat of forcing special election, keeps voters out of charter process." The process of getting citizens involved in the charter writing process is prescribed by Section 1 A of Article XI-A of the Maryland Constitution and requires citizens to petition for our charter writing candidates. We have a legal right to petition the government for our charter writing candidates. Yet your opinion characterizes us as subverting the charter process. Since when is following the law considered a threat?

In fact, in 1991 citizens petitioned for their charter writing candidates. One citizen went to court trying to get the results overturned by claiming citizens needed 2,000 votes for each candidate. The judge ruled 2,000 signatures were needed for the entire slate of candidates. Why didn’t Commissioner Bouchat know that citizens can petition to have their candidates write the charter and why didn’t he know that a citizen petition requires a special election according to Maryland law?

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Your editorial wants citizens to wait until the commissioners select their charter writing candidates. We have seen their actual selections in the recent past. They put a member of Democratic Central committee on the Ethics Board when viable Republican candidates were available. The chairman of the Democratic Central Committee is chair of the Solid Waste Advisory Council. They stacked the Combined Education Committee with union members. According to Maryland law, we have 60 days to gather 2,000 signatures for our slate. Given the above history, we don’t want to wait to see if we like who they select.

Commissioner Bouchat claims he wants a charter written by the people but when citizens exercise our statutory rights to do that, we were accused by your paper of holding a bayonet. Commissioner Bouchat told me in an email if I publicly fought it, I would be viewed as a pariah and ostracized from the process. Why should we trust him to choose charter committee members? Anybody with experience in politics knows that whoever appoints the people on the committee determines the outcome. We prefer commissioner government but if a charter is to be written we want to write it to protect county taxpayers. We do not favor a high-priced powerful county executive. We have seen what happened in other counties that adopted charter government.

In an Aug. 4 column written by Commissioner Bouchat, he claims he wants “to empower the people.” I think his claim should read “empower the politicians.” Charter is a way for the small number of government officials pushing it to run for county executive. When Del. Krebs and commissioners Frazier and Bouchat were asked at the June 27 forum if they would recuse themselves from running for county executive none of them did. Charter has been voted down six times, which means the electorate doesn’t want it. None of the politicians pushing charter has described any benefits accruing to us taxpayers.

Finally, the editorial said it hoped the commissioners could find $400,000 of taxpayer money to hold a special election that would be required if our group gets the required 2,000 signatures to force one. Why didn’t Commissioner Bouchat know that a special election would cost money? We don’t want the county to waste any more money on charter but that decision rests with the full Board of County Commissioners. For the Times to characterize us as a tiny motivated faction holding a bayonet is way over the top. In fact, we are trying to keep the politicians from holding a bayonet to taxpayers’ throats should they succeed in getting charter government.

Bruce Holstein, a member of the Carroll Taxpayers Coalition, writes from Taylorsville.

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