The Developer Cartel's Goal

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mr. Arentz Puts the Citizens in Last Place

           During the campaigns of our newly elected county commissioners, we repeatedly heard affirmations of their desire to hear and act upon the concerns of all of the citizens of Queen Anne's County.  However, the first major change to our county commissioner meetings was the removal of the public comment period from the beginning of those meetings.  The responsibility for this decision lies with the commission president, Steve Arentz, who is responsible for setting the meeting agendas
            While Mr. Arentz did not get rid of public participation altogether, he moved it to the very end of the meetings which he knows is the most inconvenient time of the citizens. The citizens know that the early comment period was their most valuable and practical means of exercising their right to participate in their county government.
            Half of the commissioner meetings are morning meetings and half are evening meetings.  Prior to Mr. Arentz’s new dictate, the public comment periods were always near the beginning of these meetings.  Previous commissioners were aware that most citizens need to go to work late in order to speak at a morning meeting.  They knew that by moving public comment to the end of the morning meetings, it would mean people would have to take the whole day off, and that few people could afford to do that.  They also knew that moving public comment to the end of an evening meeting would mean that few citizens would, or could, stay to eleven or twelve at night in order to speak.  Their goal was to encourage and make public participation possible, not prevent it.
            At the very heart of our representative democracy is public participation and as Americans we have both the right and the responsibility to participate in our government.  We vote for the leaders of our government which in turn we expect to act on the will of the people.  However, our participation means far more than just casting a vote. It means becoming and staying informed, attending meetings and voicing our beliefs and desires to our government.
            When citizens are prevented from public participation, government officials make decisions without hearing the people’s will, which greatly reduces their responsibility to be transparent or accountable for their actions.  Limiting citizen comment encourages a genuine abuse of powers and the erosion of our democratic society.
            All too often, Americans have been withdrawing from public participation in their town and county governments.  Many believe their voices will be ignored and that most politicians are self-serving and crooked.  When it comes to public participation, however, our history is rich with examples where it only took a few people, at key points in time, to effect great change.
            Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Dave Dunmyer and Bob Simmons have stated their full support of putting public comment back near the beginning of their meetings. Commissioner Phil Dumenil has stated, “It really doesn’t matter to me if we do it before or later in the meeting.”  Commissioner Dave Olds has not returned emails and phone calls requesting his opinion on the matter.
            By putting the opportunity for Queen Anne’s County citizens to participate in their government last on his agenda, commission president Steve Arentz’s is making a strong statement.  For those who believe in our democratic principles of government and don’t believe that any citizen of our county should be in last place, please email, call or write your commissioners.  Their information is listed below.
            Better yet, attend the next county commissioner meeting, Tuesday, February 22nd.  It will be in the evening, however, the agenda has not yet been posted.  When it is posted, you will be able to click on the following to see if you’re still in last place: http://www.qac.org/default.aspx?pageid=1366&template=3&PageLevel=2&toplevel=36&cid=44

Commissioner Address:  107 N. Liberty StCentreville, MD 21617     
Ph: 410.758.4098   Fax: 410.758.1170
President: Steve J. Arentz  (443) 262-5303  email: sarentz@qac.org
Vice President:  Philip L. Dumenil   (443) 262-5367   email: pdumenil@qac.org
David L. Dunmyer   (443) 262-5315   email: ddunmyer@qac.org
Bob Simmons   (443) 262-5324   email: bsimmons@qac.org
Dave Olds   (443) 262-5411   email: dolds@qac.org

9 comments:

  1. I hope that EVERY QAC resident sees and knows what is going on hear. Interesting how the day following our fore fathers' birthday celebration our very right to vote and its removal is being discussed; now they are also making it harder and harder for us to let our voice be heard?!!

    I am curious as to the reasoning behind why the changes.....what was not working and for whom?

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  2. I thought Mr. Dumenil was a nice guy. It matters to the rest of us so it should matter to him!

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  3. Click on Arentz's name on the right & read the posts on him. No wonder he doesn't want to hear from anyone and no wonder Hemingways is closed. Disgusting!

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  4. Closed. I thought they had to level the building because it was so bad?

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  5. Seriously? This is a big deal? Since I have to come across the bridge during the week, this makes it easier for me to participate. Who said the majority preferred the comment period at the beginning anyway? You have asked all residents I suppose.

    Besides, by moving comments to the end of the meeting, perhaps the meeting will run more quickly and won't run so late.

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  6. I didn't have to ask all the residents if they preferred public comment to be at the beginning of the commissioner meetings. After participating in countless meetings where both time periods were available, I have witnessed at least ten times more public participation during the early public comment periods than the late periods. As for quick meetings, what time limit would you like to put on the democratic process?

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  7. This is a big deal. This is the sort of thing politicians do when they don't want to hear from citizens. The main goal of government is to do what the people want. Putting the voter last is making a strong statement. Shame on you Mr. Arentz. You won't get my vote next time!

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  8. Disgusted with PoliticiansFebruary 18, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    Fess up Mr. Arentz. You know the effect of putting the citizens last don't you? Good luck with your reelection campaign. Folks remember. What's our party symbol again? And an elephant doesn't what?

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  9. Yes, this is a big deal. The public comments in the beginning and end of the meetings seemed to work. I saw three angry citizens leave a meeting because they could not wait any longer. So far QA citizens have not been given the reason why there was a change. It seem like all of the financial problems we are having our commissioners would want to hear our opinion or questions.

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