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Tomlinson: Which local leaders are hitting it out of the park, or striking out, during pandemic?

Two months ago, the Baltimore Orioles were scheduled to play their Opening Day game at Camden Yards. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, denying fans the chance to drink a cold Natty Boh at Pickles Pub or to grab a bite to eat at Boog’s Barbeque before watching some Orioles magic.

The pandemic shut practically everything down in Maryland for more than two months. With Maryland looking to reopen, local elected officials find themselves making tough decisions on what is best for their constituents, and some of those decisions are better than others. Although we are unable to sit back and enjoy America’s pastime, here is my post-game analysis on which local leaders are hitting home runs and which ones are striking out.  

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Home Run: District 5 delegation, Board of Education 

On May 19, Sen. Justin Ready, and Dels. Susan Krebs, April Rose, and Haven Shoemaker smashed it out of the park by sending a letter to Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer, asking on behalf of students and parents, that he work with the local school system to come up with a plan that would allow 2020 high school seniors to participate in a common-sense outdoor graduation ceremonies, while still promoting social distancing. 

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At last Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, Board Vice President Marsha Herbert made a passionate plea to have the Board’s lawyer send the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel a letter asking for interpretive guidance regarding the Governor’s executive order. The Board unanimously voted in favor of Herbert’s motion. If Carroll churches are currently allowed to hold outdoor religious services with less than 250 people, I do not see why each school could not host graduation on their football field, spread out over the course of a week. The graduation days could be divided up based on last names and each student could have two guests in attendance. Even with staff, less than 250 people would be there every day.

Struck out: Frederick County Executive Gardner

The Town of Mount Airy rests between Carroll and Frederick Counties. While Carroll County has fully embraced the first stage of the governor’s recovery plan, Frederick County is leaving the stay-home order in place and keeping all non-essential businesses closed, putting Mount Airy residents and businesses in a pickle. Almost 80% of Frederick County’s confirmed cases have come out of the City of Frederick and 78% of deaths attributed to the virus in Frederick County occurred in nursing homes, so why is Executive Jan Gardner forcing little ol’ Mount Airy to remain shut down? Depending on what side of South Main Street you live or operate your business, the rules are completely different. Mayor Pat Rockinberg threw Gardner a real meatball by requesting a waiver from Frederick County. Instead of granting the waiver, Gardner denied the mayor’s request, leaving Mount Airy in an awkward state.

Home Run: Westminster mayor and council

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In May 2019, the Westminster’s Common Council passed an ordinance, effective on July 1, 2020, prohibiting any business establishment within Westminster from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to its customers, except in certain circumstances. Knowing that many customers and merchants are uncomfortable with using reusable bags at the present and that the plastic bag ban increases the overhead costs for businesses, the council, with the support of Mayor Joe Dominick, wisely threw a curveball by pushing the effective date back one full year. 

Struck out: Councilmember Pecoraro

Councilmember Gregory Pecoraro, who introduced the plastic bag ban in April 2019, pushed for the postponement to last only six months instead of a year. With local businesses suffering horribly from the shutdown and consumers pinching every penny, this terrible measure should be postponed indefinitely. By agreeing to delay this awful piece of legislation, Pecoraro has admitted that the ordinance is a shutout for businesses and customers. 

Home Run: Commissioners Rothstein, Frazier

When the idea of canceling the annual Fourth of July Fireworks at the Farm Museum was brought up at the May 14 Board of County Commissioners meeting, commissioners Ed Rothstein and Dennis Frazier pushed back and hit a solid dinger by proposing a scaled-back version of the event. After being told that several surrounding counties had canceled their fireworks already, Rothstein replied, “The best part of Carroll County is that we’re not Baltimore County, Howard County, or the City.” The meeting ended with the Commissioners agreeing to look at a limited Independence Day fireworks celebration. “I think it’s a plus if we have it and nobody else does. This is Carroll County,” proclaimed Frazier during the meeting. 

At the end of the day, our local leaders are up at bat against an unprecedented problem, and they are working hard to come up with solutions to get us all back on the field, safe and sound. 

Christopher Tomlinson, a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, writes from Melrose. Email him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.

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