The Developer Cartel's Goal

The Developer Cartel's Goal
No Longer "The Liberty Building"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paul Gunther Put a Fox in the Henhouse

This past January, Paul Gunther, provided clear evidence of his unfailing allegiance to Mareen Waterman by placing Mareen’s son, Barry Waterman, on the county Planning Commission.  Gunther deliberately ignored the unanimous conclusion given him by the Queen Anne’s County Ethics Commission (click here) that Barry Waterman be prohibited from being placed on the Planning Commission.

The county Ethics Code forbids any board or commission member from “being employed or having a financial interest in an entity that is…subject to the authority of that official or employee of the governmental unit with which the official or employee is affiliated.”  The simplified version is that that we don’t allow a fox to be in charge of the henhouse.

According to the financial disclosure statement of Barry Waterman on file with the county, (1) he is the owner of a business entity which he described as being in the business of “real estate brokerage, consulting, development & construction, [and] investments,” and (2) through that business entity, he has ownership directly, with another named person or through various partnership arrangements, of some 25 parcels of property located from one end of Queen Anne’s County to another.

So what was obvious to the average citizen, but not to Paul Gunther, was that Barry Waterman could not be placed on the Planning Commission without violating the county Ethics Code.

But wait, there’s more to the story.  Before the vote on the appointment of Barry Waterman, one of the other county commissioners had specifically asked the Ethics Commission for their advisory opinion on the issue. Just prior to their vote, the opinion was revealed.  Commissioner Gene Ransom, presiding over the proceedings, suggested they defer consideration of the appointment until the issue could be more fully investigated.

Paul Gunther would hear none of that.  “We need to appoint him now,” he said, according to witnesses present.  He then demanded a vote, which the president was powerless to stop.  Sadly two other commissioners joined Gunther in serving Mareen Waterman’s wishes.  Thus Paul Gunther placed a Waterman family member on the Planning Commission contrary to both the county Ethics Code and a unanimous opinion by the Ethics Commission.

At-Large Commissioner candidate Neal Jackson, in a June interview with the Record Observer, said he felt that the vote on Barry Waterman, directed by Paul Gunther, indicated a “tin” ear among some commissioners on the subject of ethics.  A more accurate analysis suggests that Gunther turned a deaf ear as well as a blind eye to the Ethics Code when he pushed through Waterman’s appointment.  But that’s what happens when the Developer Cartel’s desires are put ahead of the needs and wishes of the citizens of Queen Anne’s County.


  1. Typical Gunther. The reason he appointed Barry is because he knew he'd get another vote to support his pave the county agenda.

  2. At the beginning of their term, this Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for a strengthened Ethics Code - that was a really good thing. Now for whatever reasons, 3 on the board (Gunther, Billups and Wargotz), chose to ignore the Advisory Opinion without even going to the Ethics Commission to review their reasoning. Bob Simmons was right - why have an Ethics Code only to ignore it. At the very least, Gunther (and Wargotz for that matter), should not point to this Ethics Code as one of their proud accomplishments! I guess on ethics their position is "I was for it before I was against it".

  3. I was there when Mr. Waterman's son pleaded his case as to why he should be let on the board. I do not remember anything being said by either Waterman that the appointment would go against the Code of Ethics.

    My question is.....why was it sooooo important that Barry get on this particular board with all the other ventures he has? I guess during the comp plan debacle and all the other political uproar I have now seen the answer. What a pity that things are actually run this way. I for one am so disappointed.