I don’t want to write a book this morning about this or anything else, but I continue to scratch my head about why Washington County Republican leaders are beating the drum for a project that almost no one (but some government cronies and a baseball franchise) wants.
The plan is for a large ($30 million minimum) sports stadium in downtown Hagerstown that would be disruptive to those who live there and cost all taxpayers of the city, county and state a bundle of money (even though officials are floating word that some financial angel is waiting in the wings to donate $15 million!).
Here is the latest story (well, maybe not the latest because there is something new every few hours it seems) from the Herald Mail (which, incidentally, would stand to gain from the project as part of its land in the city would be required for the project).
Open that link above and look at the size of this thing! If you know anything about Hagerstown, you know that traffic congestion at some times of the day is already unbearable. Imagine when supposedly thousands arrive for an event. By the way, only 800 reportedly attended a recent game of the Hagerstown Suns at their present stadium.
Note too that several churches are close by and surely the traffic, the noise and the lights will have some affect on their parishioners. And, that grandiose library our Republican leaders are building is only a couple of blocks away, so much for a quiet location to read and contemplate.
Here are some news items from the last week or so:
* A planning commission member and DEMOCRAT mayoral candidate asks too many questions, here. What is going to happen to the Republican brand in Washington County if the Dems support the citizens and oppose wasteful spending?
* Citizens present letter of concern to Mayor and Council, here.
* Mayor and Council try to figure out how to hold a public forum and keep voices under control, here. (They watched that Rail Trail public meeting explode and don’t want a repeat!)
NOTE TO CITIZEN ACTIVISTS! DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO HOLD THAT TYPE OF ‘FORUM.’ DEMAND AN OPEN PUBLIC HEARING. Or, plan your own!
I first became aware of the strategy called the “Delphi Technique” back in the days when the county, state and federal government were attempting to ram through plans for Southern Washington County and the Antietam Battlefield area that would be detrimental to local farmers. The National Park Service held such a ‘forum’ in Harper’s Ferry about that time and some of us went to observe.
What we saw was a huge surprise to those of us who still had some belief in good, open and honest government. The Delphi Technique variation we observed was similar to the one being proposed by Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. Instead of an open mic where everyone gets to present their opinions and everyone present gets to hear what everyone else has to say, they divide those attending into small groups and thus contain those “loud mouths” and keep them from stirring up further trouble.
Each small group is stacked with people who are supportive of the government plan and the trouble makers are dispersed throughout. Each group then comes up with a list of things to present to the larger group when it reconvenes, but surprise, surprise, the naysayers’ views become a minority position in the small group and never again see the light of day. Those in attendance never know how many people at the forum actually oppose the boondoggle.
As a matter of fact, this version of the Delphi Technique was used by Gov. O’Malley when he held those ‘forums’ around the state to promote PlanMaryland. I told you about it in this post from last December. Scroll down to the section on “how to manipulate a meeting.” Here is how I concluded that post:
Bottomline, do not ever let a government agency, which is holding some hearing or planning session, divide the attendees. Make sure everyone hears everyone’s questions and concerns.
Funding must still be approved in Annapolis next year.
Oh, and one more thing, they think they can get construction underway in early 2013, but the project really rests on whether the State of Maryland will be kicking Maryland taxpayer dollars into the stadium kitty. None of that will happen until the General Assembly is back in session in the first quarter of 2013. So, are they planning to start construction before they even know if they have all the money?
Ways to voice your opposition
All Maryland citizens should weigh in on the project (you will all be paying for it!) by going to either (or both) of the citizen petitions.
* Visit Lynda Evans blog, The Liberated Conservative Woman, and see the petition link in the right hand column.
* Go to Change.org where local city residents have posted their letter of concern (that is the one they took to the Mayor and Council above).
Sheesh! I did write a book, hope you made it this far!
Update: Yet another description of how to handle being Delphied!