Op-Ed: Spy Columist Montgomery Wrong on All Counts by Nicholas Panuzio

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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

Letters to Editor

  1. David Smith says:

    Nicholas Panuzio is correct on all accounts. Bravo !!

    • William Marquess says:

      I think a recall is in order or is that a call for an impeachment of Laura Price not sure which but one would do.

  2. Debbie Leber says:

    Thank you Nick, well said and well expressed

  3. Willard Engelskirchen says:

    Wow. Thank you Mr. Panuzio. Until I read this I had not understood how partisan the Republican Central Committee of Talbot County had become. Today I learned that cooperation and trying to work together gets one labeled a RINO. I remember when Andy Gilchrist got that label. That eventually got us Dr. No. I voted for Gilchrist every chance I could.

    I have been following this whole mess and it is quite remarkable. This has motivated me to follow the Bipartisan Coalition for New Council Leadership. Again thank you Mr. Panuzio for providing this guidance.

    I, and many others in the County,want the character of our area preserved. Most of us are not in the real estate or building business. I suspect that would make us poor Republicans. We are for preservation and conservation. We do not want our county to be another Kent Island.

    I will have a tough time voting for a Republican in the future…. though I did vote for some this time.

    And thank you Mr. Montgomery for your efforts which have helped me to understand the local GOP and how they operate. It has been eye opening.

    An organization whose purpose is to preserve what we have is, in my opinion, just what the county needs. The fact that it is bipartisan may offend both the Dems and the GOP. Life is tough…. the Talbot County Republicans can go back to trying to fire Nancy Pelosi and other useless tasks which advance nothing. Shout out those insults….. It helps me to know what kind of character you have.

    FYI, I live in Bozman and am retired. I worked in research for 35 years – for a chemical company in private business. (BTW – I think Climate Change is real – another problem with me and the GOP)

    c

  4. Jim Franke says:

    “The Maryland Republican Party put out a last-minute call for volunteers to help U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), whose reelection campaign has been mired in controversy over the last few weeks. The Mississippi Senate runoff is today.” This says it all about the GOP in Maryland. Talbot RCC making those calls?

  5. Millicent Pitts says:

    Boring! The Talbot GOP (losing) position on this is old news. Nick when you are in a hole quit digging.

  6. This is right out of the Republican Playbook. Deny and counterpunch. We were all here watching, and reading, and you can’t change what we experienced from the sad local GOP and the surge of outrage that toppled Ms Williams. You can call us “the few individuals” all day long, but the proof is in the vote count. I won’t dignify your bilious allegations but the Coalition will be growing as long as you are running the local GOP. Perhaps The Talbot Spy will favor us with an in-depth story on your political background and previous associates. People who read your remarks would do well to consider the source.

  7. David Montgomery says:

    Dear Nick
    I will leave it to others who know her better than I to respond to your unkind attacks on Laura Price and your fabricated claims about her relations with the Coalition. I just want to put a few things straight about me. 1. Your reading of my columns in the Spy seems pretty selective. I announced my support for the Coalition and Laura in a LTE well before the election. 2. I never called for resignation of the entire RCC, just those responsible for the dirty tricks against Laura. If you say that is everyone on the RCC, I will take your word for it. 3. I do regret that the Republican Council turned its balance over to you. We did that before we had any idea that you would treat one of our own as you have, and I personally would have voted to give it to Laura’s campaign had we waited a few weeks longer. 4. I worked in Washington long enough to realize that if both parties attack you, you must be doing something right.

    You are pulling off a feat of political suicide that would make Hillary Clinton proud. Your attacks on Laura, her supporters, and those who opposed policies adopted by the previous County Council are alienating many voters whom you will need in future elections. Are we your “deplorables?” My column was intended to be constructive advice to those who care about our party, based at least in part on a hope that Chuck, Corey and Frank would be willing to form a coalition government with Laura and Pete. The idea that a slim majority entitles those holding it to ignore the views of everyone who did not vote for them is not producing good government in the U.S. Congress, and I think we can do better.

    With wishes for a better New Year
    David

    • Carolyn Ewing says:

      Well said, David. The RCCTC failed to turn out the R vote to give Harris a majority in Talbot County, thereby failing to support a much needed seat in the House because they were engaged in secretive (think Sears Wheeler and Toby Tyler), vitriolic and unjustified attacks on a Republican. If there is one ounce of integrity, rather than raw ego, those actively engaged in the pac, Matt Albers, David Reel, Connie Sheer and Nick Panuzio, will give Republicans an opportunity to restore integrity and transparency to the party in the county by stepping aside. We have a presidential election in two years; we need party leadership that has the confidence and respect of the voters to work for Republican candidates. Sadly, we have no such organization at present, and the bylaws contain no standards of ethics and no mechanism short of committing a felony or dying, to remove people from the central committee. Ironically, we are left with relying on the integrity of people who have demonstrated a woeful lack of integrity to do the right thing for the Republican party. One can only hope that they can see the big picture, a Republic at risk. Anyone holding their breath?

    • Julie Imirie says:

      It is so disheartening to some of us who worked hard as Republicans to trust that the candidates we supported would be honest and open in their approach to campaigning. I am not so naive to believe that politics isn’t dirty businees, but I always thought our local leaders would have the best interests of the County in mind, not their own. The RCC has become an organization hardly recognizable to many of its past members and collegues. It is time for a change. And since there is no mechanism for that to occur other than through public awareness and pressure, we must hold to account those that would betray the trust of the people. But, for that to occur, we need people to step up and become involved. Come Monday, when the new Council is seated, and beyond in the days and months to follow, we will see whether Pack, Divilio and Callahan will listen to the people, or hide behind closed doors and plot more falsehoods and antics. The public has more power than they think to keep this group in check.

  8. After reading the eye-opening guest comment in the Friday Star Democrat, one wonders what the final votes would have been if this information had been available to voters before election day. Guessing fewer Republican members on the incoming county council.

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