David Montgomery’s November 19th rant in the Spy has so much misinformation it is difficult to know where to start on correcting the record.
First and foremost, Laura Price has not earned the position of President of Talbot County Council, nor does any member of the Council have any obligation to vote for her.
Incoming Council members do not have a duty to elect her as Council President. They have a duty to elect the best qualified person to serve. The County Council is not a nursery school where everyone gets a turn. One must earn the position of President by possessing the requisite leadership skills needed to successfully lead the County. Chief among these are the ability to work well with others to find common ground and reach meaningful compromises and the ability to work as a team member who is willing to put ego aside rather than seek personal glory. These are the traits needed to lead successfully.
Price has failed in these regards throughout her council career, which is why in the past eight years her fellow Council members have never chosen her as President of the Council. Council members observe each other’s comments and behavior, both in public and in private, and, clearly, they have observed and determined that Price does not have the requisite leadership skills or temperament to serve in this important position.
Mr. Montgomery says the Central Committee has done a lousy job and should all resign. Yet, when he was Chairman of the Republican Council, which withered and died under his leadership this past September, he approved the transfer of all of the Republican Council’s remaining funds to the very same Central Committee that he now says is terrible.
There is no need for the Republican Central Committee, elected by the Republican voters of Talbot County, to “clean house”. During this last election cycle, the Committee’s behavior was very restrained when RINO (Republican in Name Only) Laura Price, never publicly denounced the campaign launched by the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership PAC against Laura’s fellow Republicans, Jennifer Williams, Corey Pack, Chuck Callahan, and Frank Divilio. One can only assume this occurred because the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership advanced Laura’s personal political agenda.
To their credit, and supported wholeheartedly by the Republican Central Committee, the Talbot Democratic Central Committee and several of their candidates for County Council spoke out and admonished the Coalition for their tactics and their strategy. Price remained silent. When both Parties agree that you’re doing something reprehensible, you probably are.
As far as the Republican Central Committee goes, we supported all Republicans that were not working against Republicans. Mrs. Price refused to join a “slate” of Republicans for County Council, instead working to defeat them as the darling of the special interest groups who supported her by spreading lies on her behalf. We didn’t work for her, but we didn’t work against her, either. Perhaps we should have.
Let’s just go back to February of this year when Laura Price unleashed frequent attacks on Facebook by sharing numerous derogatory letters to the editor about her fellow Republicans, in preparation for her campaign, a tactic she continued right up until the general election. Rather than working together as part of a Republican team, she went out on her own doing everything she could to make herself look good and the rest of the Republican members of the Council look bad. With this attitude, it’s no wonder they don’t want her as their leader.
In the primary, Mrs. Price received the lowest vote count of candidates that advanced to the general election because many Republicans saw through her charade. So, fearing that she might not get reelected, she totally aligned herself with those groups seeking to oust her fellow Republicans, the groups that formed the so-called Coalition, attending numerous meet and greet events put on by their members like a debutant at a ball. Their purpose, as Mr. Montgomery noted, was to oust every Republican except Mrs. Price. Does that sound like a Republican strategy?
Since coalitions are difficult to hold together, the Coalition changed their tactics and announced that they would confine their attacks to Jennifer Williams, the Council President, a practicing attorney, and a member of MENSA, by the way, so she’s no dummy. They identified her as a leader in their own emails where they stated, “There is no doubt she is smart and savvy”, and “Jennifer Williams was her usual self, listening and allowing everyone to speak.” I don’t know about you, but these are certainly traits I want to see in a leader.
Why were Corey Pack and Chuck Callahan taken off the hit list? According to the Coalition, “Mr. Pack served effectively on the County Council for eight years before the arrival of Ms. Williams” and “Mr. Callahan is well liked.” Apparently voting records don’t matter, if you are well liked or did as you were told in the past.
Should we have supported Price because she has an (R) after her name? No. She does not govern like a Republican should govern. Jennifer Williams did, but Laura Price did not. Price has become a megaphone for those special interest groups advocating for more government and more regulations. She even proposed that owners of short-term rentals turn their bank statements and tax returns over to the County.
On the other hand, Jennifer Williams, Corey Pack, and Chuck Callahan tried to strike compromises between businesses and residents. They’ve tried to minimize regulations while still providing needed protections. The noise ordinance they passed is the most restrictive in the entire state. The short-term rental ordinance has numerous safeguards included, from an application process that is far more onerous than before to the substantial financial penalties for violations.
Laura Price’s election does not demonstrate voters’ opposition to policies Republicans have supported. Voters clearly understood the records and positions of Corey Pack, Chuck Callahan, and Frank Divilio. Based on that understanding, a majority of voters affirmed the Council should stay the course going forward. To imply the voters did not understand that reality is arrogant and insulting to their intelligence.
Montgomery says the Council should never rule by a 3-2 majority. They should somehow defer to the minority, if it includes Mrs. Price, and do what she says. This is simply beyond absurd. The principle of majority rule is a long held and sacred tenet at every level of government in America and every democracy throughout the world. The only places unanimous votes occur regularly are in dictatorships and banana republics.
When Mr. Montgomery opines that “weakening noise ordinances, encouraging short-term rentals, and subverting both the legally required planning process and the will of the people” – he is just plain wrong. His opinions are simply not supported by the facts but only by the false, misleading, and out of context statements from the Coalition PAC. Perhaps he should have taken the time to actually research these issues and talk to both sides before making such blatantly wrong statements. Perhaps, if he had done so, he would have learned that he has been given but one very distorted side of the story.
Last, but not least, Mr. Montgomery failed to disclose that he is a supporter of, and financial contributor to, the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership PAC, whose talking points were the basis of his diatribe. Perhaps that detail did not fit with his outrage with the Republican Central Committee, about which he professes so much concern. His concern, as well as that of all Talbot County residents, should be focused on the few individuals who launched and funded a Washington DC-type misinformation campaign to advance their personal agendas.
Nicholas Panuzio is the Chair of Republican Central Committee of Talbot County