Three is no crowd

Carroll County: Community meetings deserve participation, support of all commissioners.

September 12, 2000

AT LEAST Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge believes in improving the public's access to the elected officials who run the county.

It's a sad commentary on her two colleagues, Donald Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier, that they will prevent any county staff members from attending and helping to answer questions at the five community meetings she's planned.

It's increasingly evident that those two self-professed ideological soul mates believe that they alone are the government, and that Ms. Gouge is an unnecessary third wheel who requires only nominal recognition.

We believe that Ms. Gouge, the president of the board of commissioners, discussed her intention to hold these open agenda meetings with her colleagues, despite the contrary assertions of Ms. Frazier.

If Commissioners Frazier or Dell wanted to participate, the times and dates could have been adjusted to fit their schedules. Many people find Ms. Frazier's excuse about conflicting church meetings to reflect a kind of narrow-interest approach toward the office that she's shown before.

Citizens deserve opportunities to speak with their elected leaders at times other than the daytime meetings the commissioners typically schedule. Working people can't easily attend those sessions.

Ms. Gouge has recognized that fact. She also knows that people have concerns that don't easily fit into the meetings of organizations that sometimes have a commissioner or two as guests.

The questions asked at her first community meeting last week in Eldersburg showed that Ms. Gouge was right. Citizens asked about development, planning decisions, water quality and supply.

It's a shame the other two commissioners weren't there. Their ill will toward Commissioner Gouge belies the pledge of open government they made with her in their initial weeks of office.

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