Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It doesn't matter what your height is, it's what's in your heart.

Hey remember Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter?  If not maybe this can jog your memory.  Kirby Delauter is back in the news for very different reasons.  He is the owner of W.F. Delauter & Son, an excavation, utility, and drilling contractor.  Back when he was a County Commissioner[2] the Ethics Commission in Frederick County ruled that it would be a conflict for his company to bid on County projects.  Now that he is a County Councilmember, however, the Ethics Commission no longer feels like it would be a conflict of interest.  According to this article Delauter can vote on the capital improvement budget but should recuse himself on any project he wishes to or already has bid on.   County Executive Jan Gardner (a Democrat) and Council President Bud Otis (a Republican) wrote this letter to the Ethics Commission to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) “WTF?  No seriously, WTF?” They end the letter with this “We will take immediate action to remedy this situation with legislation and executive order” and according to thisarticle they are moving forward quickly to take those actions.  I will bring this to Howard County in a second but first let’s take a moment to gawk at Kirby Delauter.  Here are his highlights from that article:

"I really didn't think she would be that arrogant to do what she is doing," [Delauter] said.  It shows that whenever Gardner doesn't agree with something, she will go around the process, he said. He said Gardner says she wants a fair process and wants people involved, but she really wants only certain people involved.
"She wants the process to benefit her," Delauter said.
The way that Gardner is running the county is "basically like a dictatorship," Delauter said.

And in case you were wondering why his fellow Republican and colleague escaped his wrath, wonder no longer:

When told that Otis' name was also on the letter, Delauter said, "He has to look in the mirror every day."

Okay so I bring this whole issue up for two reasons.  The first is that we have two County elected officials who are Republican.  The first is Councilman Greg Fox and the other of course is County Executive Alan Kittleman.  While my disagreements with both are widespread both are smart, good intentioned, and decent.  Greg Fox appears to have even made it his habit to recuse himself when any energy related policy or procurement comes before him[3].  I know that my declarations are pretty mild but seeing Kirby Delauter in action compelled me to mention how bad we COULD have it here in Howard County.

Secondly, conflict of interest and undue influence are terms we throw around a lot in Howard County.  Almost always around issues that are very gray and this issue, a County Councilmember literally bidding on a County project, helps set the end zone line.  

[1] The title is a quote from my favorite Kirby, Kirby Puckett.  Although his song "lady willpower" is mediocre at best and a lot of his stuff is creepy.  Wait that's Gary Puckett, never mind.  So a quote from my favorite Kirby for a post on my least favorite Kirby.
[2] Without going into too much detail, a Commission serves as both the Executive and the Legislative branch and in a charter County there is a Council (Legislative Branch) and an Executive.  Frederick is in its first year with a Council and Executive. 
[3] He works for Constellation Energy.

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