We all chuckled when we heard Paul Gunther address the Queen Anne’s County tea party rally and speak against government waste, runaway spending and the huge debt that was being left our children and grandchildren. It was laughable because at that very same time he was outspoken in his support for the State Department’s hard skills facility proposed for Ruthsburg. For those of you who are not aware of that project, it was renamed by the federal government as the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) in an effort to make it a little more palatable to the rapidly growing opposition from the citizens of Queen Anne’s County.
One of the many reasons our residents were opposed to the facility was that it was government waste at its worst. The State Department claim was that they wanted to consolidate fifteen existing sites into one. That’s right. No taxpayer dollars had to be spent at all because the facilities for this training already existed. They wanted one huge facility near Washington D.C. so they could more easily show off what they do to members of congress and visiting foreign dignitaries. When they were offered land already owned by the federal government at Aberdeen, the State Department turned it down because they “didn’t want to share” a facility with another branch of the government.
Another source of controversy related to the wasteful spending issue for FASTC, was the initial source of funds for the project which was “stimulus” money. One of the rules for the use of stimulus money was that it must be used for “shovel ready” jobs in order to quickly put Americans back to work. Absolutely no stimulus funds were to be used for pork barrel projects, let alone to purchase land from a millionaire Queen Anne’s County developer. But this project was precisely that! It was put in motion by none other than Senator Barbara Mikulski in an effort to bolster Frank Kratovil’s re-election chances. That’s the point of pork. Buy those votes by bringing home the bacon.
Interesting enough, Paul Gunther, lifelong Democrat, was not the only one supporting Mikulski’s Ruthsburg pork. The remainder of the Developer Cartel candidates supported it as well and they are all professing fiscally conservative Republicans. That’s right. Steve Arentz, Phil Dumenil and Dave Olds loyally sided with Mareen Waterman’s wholesale support for the incredible financial burden that the taxpayers of our county were certain to suffer from the FASTC.
But why in the world would conservative Republicans support Mikulski pork? They knew that the federal government would pay no taxes into the county coffers. They knew that all the good paying jobs would be filled by existing government employees from outside the county. They even knew that outside contractors would get all the construction work. Why would they choose to betray the values they proclaim to support? Money. Greed. In spite of the mountain of evidence showing the FASTC project to be a dead loss financially to our Queen Anne’s county government, they personally hoped to gain financially.
No greater example of this blatant hypocrisy was a conversation I had with my fellow Republicans in front of their booth at the county fair. While hearing Mikulski and Kratovil repeatedly maligned, I questioned those present, which included one of the Developer Cartel candidates, about their vocal support for the FASTC when they knew it was Mikulski pork. The most memorable response of the several I received was, “because, a**h***, it was our pork.”
Many of the problems plaguing America go far beyond our huge deficits. But most of our country’s economic woes are the result of our politicians’ inability or refusal to hold fast to the same standards of morality set out for us by our founders. This distressing behavior extends to both sides of the political aisle, especially with respect to our current field of candidates for Queen Anne’s County Commissioner. You can rest assured that the Cartel Candidates would always place developer goals ahead of the needs of the citizens of Queen Anne’s County, as their actions have shown that.
I can and will easily cast votes for Republicans Bob Simmons and Dave Dunmyer whose actions support their values. Then I will do the same for Democrats Neal Jackson, Jack Broderick and Arlene Taylor, whose moral compasses direct them to stand up for principle over political party.
It’s not what’s right or left. It’s what’s right or wrong.
Sveinn C. Storm