Several Aberdeen council members have been blasting former mayoral candidate Patrick McGrady and "myths" about the city they say are being perpetuated through local media. They launched a verbal barrage against the naysayers during Monday's city council meeting.
Councilwoman Ruth Elliott slammed an item on Aberdeen Patch in which McGrady said the city does not know how to reinvest in Aberdeen without resorting to backdoor deals.
"He doesn't know what in the hell's name he's talking about, for one thing," Elliott said of McGrady. "If you're going to print something make sure it's the truth. This person never does. He comes up with all these ideas and such and he doesn't have any suggestions, he doesn't have any plans, he doesn't come to the council with any of this because he doesn't know what he's talking about. That's the bottom line."
McGrady lost the mayor's race last fall by 25 votes to Mayor Mike Bennett, an outcome much closer than many expected and what some believe was influenced by McGrady's emphasis on the mayor's ethical lapse when he took a trip paid for by Ripken Baseball to lobby on behalf of the organization in another city.
McGrady has since become chairman of the county's Republican Central Committee and has continued to criticize the city's government, which has in turn gotten the goat of some council members, particularly Elliott and Sandra Landbeck.
Water bills defended
Councilwoman Landbeck said she does not know why her attempts to educate the public about the water system finances and billing are not being heeded. She referred to a Patch editorial about billing that said Aberdeen needs water bills that are predictable, low and fair.
"I have really worked for several months to show that they [water bills] are fair, they are predictable and they are the lowest around," said the councilwoman, who at a recent council retreat also criticized The Record's coverage of the city government.
Landbeck also said she received a "very threatening e-mail" accusing her of having a short memory for supporting the 830 Gilbert Road annexation, which is now up before the council and was introduced Monday.
Landbeck explained she does support annexation if it is done in an orderly way and follows the comprehensive plan, although she was opposed to another annexation in years past.
Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young also continued to defend the city's water bills, suggesting that residents ration their water more effectively.
"I'm a firm believer that water is our modern-day gold," she said. "How much our water bill is at our house depends how I use the water. If we are being careful with our own water use, then our water bill is not sky-high."
Train station article blasted
Leaving no stone unturned where the media is concerned, Elliott also blasted a column in The Record, by Jim Kennedy, about the sorry shape of the city's train station and its pedestrian tunnel.
Elliott said the city has tried to address the issue for years, but it's ultimately not in Aberdeen's hands.
"We have tried for years and years, and this council is no exception. We have police officers that are down there, we have a camera. We have some derelicts who don't know where a regular bathroom is," she said. "How you stop that, I don't know. Is it our job to do that? No. It belongs to Amtrak, and Amtrak should be doing these things."
"Come on, Mr. Kennedy, give us some other recommendations for what we should do," she said. "It seems like the railroads think that they don't have to answer to anyone, and they'll tell you that...And if it's a deterrent from what we're trying to do here in the city, and we're trying to do a lot of good things, then by golly, some ideas [are needed]."
"I was very irritated with this article. It's like he doesn't read his own newspapers because we've talked about the train station, and to come down on us and say we're not doing enough - it's just not up to us. We do as much as we possibly can," Elliott went on. "If he's got some other answers, let's hear it."
Mutual aid pact
Also at its meeting Monday, the city council approved a public works mutual aid agreement.
City Manager Doug Miller explained it would allow the city to be helped by other municipalities and to have Aberdeen help others in case of an emergency.
"If ever there is a natural or man made disaster, we can either give aid or receive aid and be reimbursed for a portion of that if there is a FEMA proclamation," Miller said, giving an example from a jurisdiction in which he used to work.
"I can tell you from personal experience that 10 years ago, when the tornado hit La Plata, this sort of mutual aid agreement did not exist and the town had to put out for all the expenses," said Miller, who worked in the southern Maryland city before he came to Aberdeen.
Royal Farms, annexation
The council also introduced bills that would annex 830 Gilbert Road, LLC, approve the 2011-2012 comprehensive zoning review and approve a forest conservation ordinance.
Council members delayed a vote on the final site a proposed Royal Farms on Route 40, asking developers to clarify some questions during an upcoming work session April 16.
Landbeck said she has concerns about the safety or reliability of the gas station and how Royal Farms will protect the site from possible leaks.
"I've been an advocate of this project from the beginning, so when I'm asking for just a little more time to discuss, please don't think that I'm not welcoming you," she said.
Young and Bennett said they have similar concerns.
Bids approved, DPW jobs
Also on Monday, the council approved bids on three items for the public works department: a zero-turn mower for $14,741 from Atlantic Tractor, an air compressor for $13,995 from Fulcrum and a pick-up truck for $40,739 from Plaza Ford.
In other public works news, DPW Director Matt Lapinsky said some sewer upgrades had been completed on Walker Street and Nottingham Drive, and 2,000 feet of sewer line had been put in. Emergency work to install sewer lines is also happening on Carter Street.
The council approved six police vehicles to be sold as surplus by Miller: a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina, a 2001 Ford F-350, a 1998 Crown Victoria, a 2004 Ford F-350, a 2004 Snapper zero-turn mower and a 2003 Crown Victoria that Miller said he wants to donate to the fire department.
Cora Summerfield, of Aberdeen High School, was honored for winning a gold medal in the state high school swimming championships earlier this month.
Monica Correll, who was recently certified as a municipal clerk, has also been approved as 2012 municipal clerk for the state of Maryland, Bennett said.
"She was elected that by her peers, so it's somewhat of a double honor in that regard," Bennett said.
Councilman Bruce Garner congratulated the Aberdeen High School Eagles girls basketball team that recently won the Class 3A state championship.
"We're losing four great players that are going to go on with their lives. They're graduating this year," he said.