Fact: Early in 2006, Aberdeen’s interim city manager Don Brand abruptly resigned from his post.
Backstory: A high-ranking city official close to the situation told me Brand was abruptly “resigned” after he allegedly became belligerent in the lobby of city hall upon learning the “interim” tag was going to stick and that he had been passed over for the permanent city manager position. His profanity-laced tirade apparently drew the attention of several city employees and passersby and left this elected official with no other choice but to tell Brand the ride was over. Adding to the disgrace, Brand, who decided he would pack up his things and leave on the spot, had been driving a city-owned vehicle to work and had to bum a ride home from city police chief Randy Rudy. So Rudy drove a just-fired Brand and all his office belongs home in the city car, dropped him off and then returned to Aberdeen with the vehicle – leaving a very recently-unemployed Brand no doubt explaining to his wife why he was home in the middle of the afternoon.
Fact: The rise and fall of Brand’s ignominous career was captured in full by The Record newspaper, largely by its reporter and news editor Brian Goodman…me.
Backstory: I hounded Brand day in and day out, even going as far as to follow him and former Aberdeen mayor Doug Wilson to Scranton, Pennsylvania to witness the Susquehanna River Basin Commission smack down the city officials for their flagrant violations in withdrawing excessive water from Deer Creek. Brand reliably wouldn’t return phone calls, was never available in his office and quickly exited public meetings or made himself inaccessible by engaging in lengthy conversations with colleagues which he refused to break even with a patient reporter glued to his side. We went round and round from before Brand was ever appointed interim city manager (he previously was a city attorney brought in to work on such ‘special projects’ as the joint use of Phillips Army Airfield at Aberdeen Proving Ground and the city’s miserable contract with Ripken Stadium). It goes without saying, we developed a distaste for one another.
Fact: More than a year-and-a-half later, not having seen or spoken to one another since I unsuccessfully prodded him for a comment on his “resignation,” the odd couple met again in the unlikeliest of places.
Backstory: Two weekends ago was Bob Chance’s ‘Berkley Open’ tennis tournament, held annually at his Darlington tree farm. I arrived late due to a prior engagement, but was offered a consolation spot filling in for someone else – basically just as a chance to get out onto the court. As Bob Chance, megaphone in hand and standing atop a six-foot aluminum ladder, announced the players in the next match, I nearly doubled over in disbelief when he shouted out my doubles partner:
“B. Goodman and Don Brand!”
And there Brand was, wearing a Gilligan’s Island-style, woman’s fishing hat and matching golf attire. Unbelievably amused at this point, I marched right up to him and said, “Mr. Brand, we meet again,” to which he looked me in the eye, glanced at his wife and replied, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” While the opposing team discussed strategy, Brand asked, “You’re the one who was always pestering me?”
The only way I could get him to pipe down was to tell him how I had recently quit my job as editor of The Record newspaper and ask him if he had landed on his feet after his fall from Aberdeen – knowing full well I had recently seen a homemade business card of his, which advertised ‘local legal service’ and featured his home telephone number, tacked up to the bulletin board of a Whiteford farm supply store.
He didn’t answer the question and promptly dropped the conversation. Needless to say, we lost, but I will always suspect foul play given his seven double faults and how he immediately grabbed his wife and left following the match. Yes, I’m suggesting Don Brand threw a friendly, neighborhood tennis match as a way of getting back at me for his getting ‘resigned.’
Given our history though, can you blame me?