There are plenty of great local feuds in Harford County, but my personal favorite is the long-running war waged between Aberdeen City Council President Mike Hiob and the local media.
In the last skirmish in this age-old battle, we saw Hiob recommending The Record newspaper be used as “a classic method of wrapping fresh fish,” and 11 other uses.
Now the two combatants are at it again. During a recent Aberdeen City Council meeting, Hiob read aloud from a letter he penned in which he criticizes the newspaper’s rhetoric regarding annexation.
Specifically, Hiob alleges the paper’s publisher and executive editor are using their editorials as a “soapbox to speak out against a project in their own backyards.” Hiob claims both live adjacent to the proposed Glengarry annexation site.
Here is Hiob’s initial letter – a slightly different version than what he read during the city council meeting:
Dear Mr. John Worthington, Mr. Ted Hendricks and Editorial Staff of “The Record” Publication
The Record Newspaper continues to spew its same old rhetoric in the December 19, 2008 and January 23, 2009 issues of your publication with editorials titled “Aberdeen Annexation Should be DOA” and “It Just Won’t Go Away.” In both, you rehash your personal explanation that my former colleagues were “tossed out of office” because of their support for the “The Wetlands” annexation.
In fact, you like to throw the term “ousted” around when referring to them. Once again, you are just plain wrong! I have tried to explain again and again that their vote in favor of the annexation was not the primary deciding factor to their demise in seeking a second term to serve in Aberdeen. It’s no secret that Mayor Fred Simmons, as well as Councilpersons Dave Yensan, Ron Kupferman, Ruth Elliott and Myself voted in favor of “The Wetlands” annexation in June of 2006, and that shortly afterwards, Councilwoman Elliott changed her mind and decided to not support it. That being said, two out of the four elected officials who supported the annexation were re-elected. Obviously, the vote in favor of annexation was NOT the primary deciding factor during the City election of 2007. What WAS the primary deciding factor in the election that year was the necessary property tax rate increase that Mayor Fred Simmons, Councilman Dave Yensan and Myself voted in favor of.
That decision was a very tough decision for me to make, knowing full well that it could be political “suicide”. But I made my decision based upon what I know to be in the best interest of our City. I did it because I thought it was about time the City started paying their annual expenses with annual revenue. (Not by borrowing money and selling off “surplus” real estate, as had been done many times in the past) And “suicide” it almost was for me. But thanks to the continued support of my established voter base, I was re-elected (but by a much smaller margin).
The oath I took was that “I will, to the best of my skills and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice execute the office of Council Person.” The current economic climate of this country, state, county, and our City demands that I look at every option available to The City of Aberdeen such as those mentioned by ACT at the last meeting, so I do not have vote to increase taxes again. One of those options happens to be increasing the tax base of our city, whether it is new development within the City, or expanding our boundaries to help facilitate not only more tax revenue, but spur retail growth and more customers for our existing businesses. One obstacle the City of Aberdeen has regarding new development and revitalization within the existing City limits is that the entire City is in the Enterprise Zone, and those commercial projects will not pay their full tax bill for ten years.
As I mentioned earlier, I firmly believe that Mr. Worthington and Mr. Hendricks continue to attempt to perpetuate the lies regarding the past administration in order to use “The Record” and the anonymity of the editorial section as their soapbox to speak out against a project in their own backyards. Since Mr. Worthington and Mr. Hendricks both live adjacent to the proposed Glengarry development, one can only assume, based on the writings in their newspaper and veiled threats spoken, that their motives are personal, and smack of influence peddling. I can only hope “The Record” has not fallen to that new low.
In closing, (and possibly to the dismay of “The Record”) our City leaders will continue to uphold their oath of office, and at the same time not allow local “news” publications to usurp or undermine the Great City of Aberdeen.
Michael G. Hiob
Aberdeen City Council President
Shortly after reading the letter aloud, Hiob received a phone call and a rebuttal letter from Executive Editor of The Record. Here is that letter, as provided by Hiob:
Dear Mr. Hiob,
It has come to my attention that you made false and defamatory statements
about me during Aberdeen’s City Council meeting Monday night.
As a newspaper editor, I expect criticism from those who disagree with our
newspapers. I will not, however, tolerate anyone making false and defamatory
statements about me. I left you a voice mail, which you have not responded
to, on your cell phone. Your comments about my opposition to the proposed
Glen Garry annexation are false.
They are not only false, but also I believe you had to have known they were
false. Those are falsehoods whispered repeatedly by those in favor of the
annexation. I have made no secret of where I have lived for the past 25
years. The proposed annexation site is neither in my back yard nor adjacent
to my home. Your other statements, based on that erroneous statement you
made, are also false and defamatory.
I look forward to how you propose to correct your false and defamatory
statements about me. As I said in the voice message that you ignored, at the
very least, I expect you to not only correct those statements, but also to
apologize for making them in the same public fashion that you made them.
That would be a start.
No word yet on what sort of elaborate apology Hiob has planned as rebuttal.