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Stuck in the Middle with Who? Frederick County Council Thoughts.

With five months down and forty-three to go, the record of the 4 Republicans on Frederick’s Inaugural County Council sure isn’t playing well.

Stuck_in_the_Middle_with_Who_050415_Blog_PicBlame it on the structure of Frederick County’s new Charter government, blame it on County Executive Jan Gardner or blame it on each other’s stubborn pride, it really doesn’t matter … Because there is clearly no harmony of trust or compatibility among the four Republican members of the County Council.

Sitting on the sidelines reading and listening to words of Bud Otis, Tony Chmelik, Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve over the last 5 months, it seems that I often hear each reciting the lyrics of the first two verses of a 1973 hit song when referring to members within their band:

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,

I got the feeling that something ain’t right,

I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,

And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,

Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right, here I am,

Stuck in the middle with you.

Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,

And I’m wondering what it is I should do,

It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,

Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

The song: Stuck in the Middle with You.  The band was Stealers Wheel, which despite their international hit song at the time, by 1975 the internal strife among their members coincidentally couldn’t hold themselves together, and the group disbanded.

Quentin Tarantino used the song in his independent film Reservoir Dogs in 1992. It fit very well with the theme of the movie, in which an eclectic band of “professional” con-men unknown to each other were brought together to pull off a grand “can’t miss” diamond heist.  In the end however due to greed and lack of trust, most ended up killing each other in a bloody shootout.

As one who served on the Charter Board and took part in the crafting of its document, I recognize as many do that it has its flaws and will need to be modified in time.  But even more so, as a Republican who actually supported each one of these council members, I am greatly disappointed in how these four, who make up a majority of the County Council can rarely find a single matter to unanimously agree upon.

This was of course blatantly apparent from the start at when they could not reach a unanimous decision on which of one them would serve as the President of the Council.

And now five months later, the lack of collaboration has been embarrassingly obvious during the review of County Executive Gardner’s budget.

When one talks to each one of the four individually, most will agree that each espouse a conservative perspective on how county government should work. But in the first go-round of the budgeting process, while some did their own homework, others clearly seemed to be either indifferent or way in over their heads.

So much for the checks and balances that were built into the Charter!

Well you started out with nothing,

And you’re proud that you’re a self-made man,

And your friends, they all come crawlin,

Slap you on the back and say,

Please…. Please…..

While others have been calling out individuals of this foursome for specific antics, actions or inactions of late, I’m more concerned that as a band, they ceased to exist before they came together.  With only 150 days into office many supporters have already declared that campaign promises have been broken.

Clearly there is no harmony or leadership within their ranks, and without such, it is likely that Jan Gardner, who received a primary election coronation from Frederick County Democrats, will be granted a road paved by Council Republicans giving her a cake walk through her “first” four year term.

Ask anyone of them where the problem lies and most likely a finger will be pointed at another … then you’ll hear a declaration through a moan emphasizing how hard they’ve tried to get the foursome to work together.

I say that’s not good enough!

In order to take advantage of the strength in their numbers, Otis, Chmelik, Delauter and Shreve, must each understand that as leadership representatives of their party and its values, they must put aside their individual egos and differences to find collaboration, as the ability to collaborate is a core component of American leadership (in contrast to that of Russia or Cuba to name a few).

So I’d like to suggest that the members of this band of “professionals” stop clowning around and take their majority seriously … this is no place for jokers.  Many are crying for them to “Please … Please” put pride aside, be consistent and create a collaborative majority that at least finds agreement some of the time!

Trying to make some sense of it all,

But I can see that it makes no sense at all,

Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,

‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Postscript: It was likely the advent of iTunes and the subsequent rediscovery of their music by the masses; so after years of band member defection and infighting resulting in legal entanglements, a couple of the core members of Stealers Wheel reunited in 2008 to rebuild what they stood for a third of a century earlier.

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The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few.


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