Kathleen Dumais: A Response to Kurtz’s Cold New Reality for Montgomery County

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By: Del. Kathleen M. Dumais 

I was incredibly disappointed with the inclusion of incorrect information in the opinion piece posted by Josh Kurtz on December 15, “Cold New Reality for Montgomery County,” as well as his blatant failure to check facts before continuing the tired criticism of the Montgomery County Delegation and other Montgomery County elected officials.

Did he even attempt to ask how the schedule for the three-day bus tour for the incoming new members of the legislature was developed and whether or not anyone in Montgomery County had any control over the schedule or the selection of sites to visit? Did he ask anyone how much notice County Executive Leggett received regarding his participation in the bus tour and whether or not alternatives for his participation were offered, since Leggett had a previous commitment to participate in the regional summit with incoming Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker?

Even though Leggett received very short notice about the tour, Mr. Kurtz seems to imply that Leggett should have skipped the regional summit (though Kurtz acknowledges in his post that the summit was important). For what it’s worth, I do not believe that skipping the regional summit would have been in the best interest of Montgomery County. Was Kurtz even aware that the proposed stop in Silver Spring at lunchtime listed on the “official” bus tour schedule as a time to meet Leggett was nixed earlier in the week, though no modification to the schedule was published? These are all questions that should have been answered before Kurtz wrote the piece criticizing the County Executive and the places visited by the bus tour in Montgomery County.

Kurtz states that the bus tour was a missed opportunity for the county to showcase its needs. I do not disagree. However, what Kurtz failed to investigate is what efforts were made by Montgomery County to change the bus tour agenda. The truth of the matter is that multiple suggestions were made by a number of individuals and elected officials from Montgomery County but, all proposals were rejected.

Further, contrary to Kurtz’s assertion that “a cold wind” howled in Montgomery County after the Committee for Montgomery breakfast last Friday, I suggest it was a “hot wind” filled with anger at the contents and tone of Governor-Elect Hogan’s keynote speech. In my humble opinion, the Governor-Elect needs a new speech writer. I'm not sure he could have been more insulting. I am well aware of the economic and budget issues facing Maryland and have been a voice for financial restraint, tax reform, and fair regulations, as have many of my colleagues. The House of Delegates passed my bill to establish a Commission on Tax Policy, Reform and Fairness in 2013 and 2014. But, clearly it’s easier for Kurtz and other commentators to continue to take pot shots at the Montgomery County Delegation rather than actually speaking with us. There’s an old adage that “you are entitled to your own opinion but, you are not entitled to your own facts.” Clearly, Kurtz did not have the facts before he wrote his recent blog post.

As to Governor-Elect Hogan’s keynote speech on Friday, all he did was offer a Republican stump speech - pointing out every negative economic report he could find. He failed to mention a single positive about the State where is about to become Governor. For instance, no mention of being Maryland being one of only 3 states with a AAA bond rating; no mention of Maryland being ranked 1st in the area of entrepreneurship according to the US Chamber of Commerce (certainly not a liberal bastion); no mention of Maryland schools being ranked 1st in the nation time and time again; no mention of tuition at institutions of higher education in Maryland being more reasonable and economical than the vast majority of other states. He finally made a few nice comments about Montgomery County at the end but, those comments seemed purely gratuitous. Hogan repeatedly states he wants to foster bi-partisan cooperation. However, that's not what I heard last Friday morning.

Finally, Kurtz’s comments regarding Senator Nancy King, current chair of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation, and Delegate Shane Robinson, current chair of the Montgomery County House Delegation, were simply unfair. Kurtz seemed to suggest that because they are “nice” individuals and that County Executive Leggett is “mild-mannered,” they cannot be strategic-minded and effective. Well, as a practicing attorney for 25 years, I can tell you that “nice” and “mild-mannered” people can still think strategically and be very successful.

Kurtz’s  implication that “brawlers” are necessary for success is blatantly false. In fact, generally, I do not find “brawlers” to be particularly effective. The key to negotiating is knowing when to apply pressure and push – strategically. Though some may disagree, I’ve had a pretty successful career, as have many other lawyers and business professionals, being “nice” and “mild-mannered,” without compromising the principles or goals set for any negotiation. There are many management and negotiation styles. Suggesting that an individual’s personality dictates whether or not they will be successful is just plain wrong.

Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais is a Democrat representing District 15 is Montgomery County and serves as Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

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