You’ve no doubt heard about it by now, so here it is for your perusal – the full contents of the mysterious letter mailed Saturday to registered voters in the City of Aberdeen.
What’s so curious about the letter is the entity which purportedly mailed it, Concerned Citizens For a Fair Aberdeen Election, used the address for another prominent citizens group, Aberdeen Communities Together.
The letter, as you can see for yourself, asks for Art Helton, a former state senator and member of the New Harford Democratic Club; Steve Johnson, chairman of the city’s Economic Development Commission and a potential city council candidate if the Harford County Circuit Court validates his candidacy; and Steve’s wife, Julie, to be taken off the city voter rolls. The back of the letter contains a petition for citizens to fill out and mail to city elections judge and former city council president Gina Bantum regarding the rights of the trio to participate in Aberdeen elections.
The ACT group (formerly the Say No Annex group, I believe, though now wearing blue instead of the sea of red that swept into city hall during the Wetlands annexation debates), suspects more political subterfuge from Mayor S. Fred Simmons and his gang.
Specifically, they blame Steve Wright, Simmons’ campaign worker, business partner in the Simmons-Wright Airpark and who you may remember as the guy that did $100,000 worth of work for the city in about 4 months without ever having a signed contract.
A few months back, in a sneaky yet completely legal move, Wright trademarked the name “Friends of Aberdeen,” which the citizens group had already been using for about 8 or 9 months. Founding member of the group, Chuck Doty, also reminds me how the Say No Annex group had its “Save the Wetlands” message co-opted by Simmons, Wright, Smedley, et al in an attempt to convince the public the annexation was the only way to save the Wetlands…golf course, that is.
Doty tells me, “It appears that the ‘powers that be’ are terribly afraid of losing the third and controlling seat on the City Council, so if by chance S. Fred Simmons is indeed re-elected (which by our talks with the voters on their door-steps for the last two weekends, he hasn’t a chance), he could no longer drive the bus’ as he has this past couple of years.”
So what do you think, does this mailer expose the political manipulations of Helton/Johnson or introduce another political manipulation on the part of Simmons/Wright?
Steve, HarfordNow says
lmao, just posted the same letter.
An Aberdeen Voter says
It's also in today's Examiner:
Steve, HarfordNow says
I thought the same thing when I saw it. Rick is normally lumped with Bennett, so I was surprised to not see his name on the left side.
I have a feeling that this quote from yesterday's examiner article may help clear things up…
"Bantum received two identical complaints about Johnson’s qualifications, one signed by Stephen Wright, Mayor S. Fred Simmons’ business partner, and the other signed by John Frank Jr., a resident from outside the city who supported the failed attempt to annex the Wetlands Golf Course, which Johnson opposed."
Does anyone else find it curious that in the list of 'Independent Candidates' it says, Rick Denu "for you!"?
Is it because he has the most memorable slogan or because he is affiliated with the group who put out the letter or because whoever put out the letter wants people to think Rick is affiliated with the group who may or may not have put out the letter? Got all that?
I hope Rick can shed some light in this murky area.
New Aberdeen Residen says
I believe that the reason that Rick Denu's name appears in the list of Independants Candidates is because he has not taken any funds/money from Art Helton
I gather that, but I'm curious why the letter listed Denu's campaign slogan with his name, yet not "In Fred We Trust" or "Vote Burlew to Start Anew" ? (I didn't make that last one up, it's really her slogan)
Does New Aberdeen Resident have inside information? How do you who took funds/money from who? Can you provide a list of each canidate's donors? (Just thought it would be interesting to know!)
An Aberdeen Voter says
Did anyone notice that whoever sent the letter doesn't know how to spell? I believe Ms. Burlew's name is misspelled. Does that indicate whoever sent the letter doesn't know who the candidates really are?
vietnam vet says
it's not a case of what's fair.after all it's the voters who will get final say'.I agree the folk's running should be town resident's. but then what's a few miles.that being said it's time to rewrite the charter.out with the old and in with the new. might just be a very interesting election.
Rick Denu says
To all readers,
To answer the question of my involvement in the letter…NO!
I have read the question asked why is Rick's campaign slogan the only one attached to his name? Could he be part of it? I even got a call from Santoni of the Examiner asking the same thing today.
Perhaps the unsavory author of this bogus document intended those questions be asked…I'm not sure…maybe they just favor me above the other candidates…again I don't know.
Let me assure all of you that I am not, nor have been, or ever will be a part of those type tactics. (and besides I know how to Nicole's name) Another note, I do not have that kind of money in my campaign fund to produce the poorly written document, purchase the envelopes and the stamps. I certainly have more important items to tend to with my limited campaign budget which is in stark contrast to the others whom are backed by big money groups, party or builder/developers.
In closing, I have asked the ACT Group to initiate a complaint and an investigation by teh United States Postal Service to determine and expose the sickening person or group behind this feeble attempt to create voter confusion.
I can't believe I even have to explain this.
Rick Denu says
You can get a copy of the contribution disclosure report from the City clerk at any time. The first filing was on the 9th of October.
i am disgusted with this whole city election process. i am more disgusted that their are so many corrupt politicians and wanna be politician (i.e. helton, johnson, doty, wright, etc). you want my take on this…i think the act group sent it knowing simmons would get blamed. another tactic by their dirty minded group. if they sent it, shame on them. if they didn't send it shame on wright if he or anyone affiliated with simmons did. this entire act group is a joke. i have seen 2 residents from the city walking with act however 15 others from the gilbert road area…this whole area is ridiculous. i am so proud to be living in an area that is the laughing stock on hardord/balt/cecil county. its no wonder aberdeen is "$@#!" on by the higher up politicians…we can't even get our own stuff right.
Chuck Doty says
In response to matthew21001:
Never will be a a politician…. All I desire is Honest, Open, Fair and a Representative local government!
(Maybe I ask for too much!)
mr doty…you ask not too much however i ponder why your group, once headed by mr wallace, is so dead against simmons? no one seems to want to work with simmons, rahter against him. where was act when the doug wilson administration was around? where was the act group the many years mrs elliott and mr kupferman were around? yet aberdeen citizens continue to elect people who have held the city back from moving forward? it seems no one wants to work with the current govt. all they (act) want to do is find mistakes. your signs say tax and spend fred, now we know hes got to go. i am assuming you are one who has never went to meet with simmons and seen what shape the city was in before simmons? i assume you dont care about aberdeen all that much that you would rather have the county govt. run the city if it goes bankrupt? your group endorses mrs elliott who again from what i understand wants the city to grow and build more high dollar homes (meet the candidates night statement)…how can your group support a woman who jumps the fence so many times? further, how does your group hold creditability when you support two men who dont live in the city however want to circumvent the process and vote/run in city elections. you as a aberdeen resident should be outraged…it be like someone from bel air coming here to run for office. as far as i am concerned, i have not seen or heard any action you, your group, or the outsiders from beyond the wetlands have done to work with the current mayor and council…rather are predigest and racist towards them, to put it in simple terms. your group has no creditability with me.
Wow! Don't hide your feelings. LOL
Harry T says
I second Herb's thoughts!!! LOL
Rick Denu says
I can see you have much interest in and passion about the issues, perhaps a paradigm shift from disgust to action would move us closer to solutions.
You are absolutley right! No wonder Aberdeen never seems to get anywhere, it's embarrasing!
you are right – the ACT group wants to insure they never become a part of the City. They think Aberdeen voters are stupid and will believe their lies and spin. Their spokesperson (who lives in Havre de Grace) is already claiming the 3 million dollars the City is borrowing is for pumping stations to get water to Gilbert Road. Hah, that money is to fix the old pumping stations in the City to make sure City residents have water.
The pumping station for that area has not even been built yet (plans for it can be requested from City Hall) – it is to be paid for by the Stepney Road LLC (Eagle's Rest) developer (not City residents). Who by the way the saynoannex, friends of aberdeen, honest friends of aberdeen, now ACT accepted money from to fight the Wetlands Annexation because he was worried that development would hurt his.
I second Employee – SLAM! SLAM! Wait, isn't Art Helton a developer? Hmm, I wonder why the ACT group supports Helton and why Helton supports ACT…yet the Wetlands…ahhh, never mind…it's about honest, open, fair, government…right?
Rick Denu says
Yes, but aren't we also talking about the same pumping stations that have been budgeted for at least four years and never done?
Why hasn't the new administration taken care of this before now, after all there is supposed to be over a million dollar surplus is the water / sewer fund after they doubled the rates and did an 18% tax increase to "balance"??? the budget.
New Aberdeen Residen says
Aberdeen has always had difficulties since the Chuck Boutin Era. For years Peter Dacey ran the council, mayor and the city. Unfortunately all of this who gets gored first is continuing and perpetuating the disdain for Aberdeen that has been so prevalent.
Each administration has successes and failures. Its just that those in Aberdeen seem to enjoy making fodder for the newspapers, it is so sad.
I believe that we should focus on the fact that there is a charter and that it was established for a purpose. If we as citizens feel that it or anything else needs to be changed we speak out at a city meeting, make it known to our representatives. I am guilty, I don't attend city meetings, how many of us attend or make our concerns known?
ACT Member says
Just wanted to clear up a few things.
ACT is a group of concerned citizens from within and around Aberdeen. The group wants to be involved in issues not only in Aberdeen but the surrounding area like Havre De Grace. It is not an ABERDEEN only group.
Art Helton has never given the group any money. While he does attend some of the meetings, he only expresses his views. He does not "Force" his opinions on the group. And if I am not mistaken, I do not recall any developments he has built, only commercial rehab on buildings he has purchased. This does not seem to follow the development title the media gives out.
Our group ACT has very little money. We can not afford to send out any mailers nor would it be right to use our group members money for anything it was not intended and voted on.
Anyone who attends the Aberdeen Council Monday night meetings can see why the current Mayor, Dave Yensan and Mike Hiob need to go. They deny their own citizens the right to have consensus on the council, vote for higher taxes without concern for their citizens most affected, exclude other council members the right to be included in meetings or discussion, and will viciously try to discredit anyone standing in their way and not sharing their views.
The Aegis called the three "the three stooges". The Aegis (in their editorial)said Mayor SImmons was a Tinhorn Dictator. And, according to the Aegis, reported Dave Yensan' s comments calling Army members Pigs, calling concerned females on the tax increase issue "Old and Demented". These are not the people on Aberdeen Council looking out for the best interests of the townspeople. Aberdeen needs a change.
And of course last but not least, Mayor Simmons is ok with Steve acting in the bests interests of Aberdeen as head of the economic council and as long as Steve Johnson is voting for his Annexation, but now that he may win a council seat and does not agree with Simmons let's throw him out.
Many of us were energized by the Wetlands Annexation. We saw Simmons, Yensan, Hiob, Kupferman ignoring the pleas of the community to delay the vote on it. We saw the disdain shown and high fives after the vote even though approx. 400 people showed up to express disagreement. ( the developer and property owner who sold were the only ones who voiced agreement with the annexation) Many of us regret not having involved ourselves years ago in local issues. We can not however go back, we can only go forward. Join us in our quest to have Aberdeen get the right people in office. Vote Mike Bennett for Mayor, Ruth Elliot for Council, and Ruth Ann Young for Council. Let's get rid of Simmons, Yensan and Hiob.
If you look up developer in the dictionary (Merriam-Webster) this what you will find:
Main Entry: de·vel·op·er
b: a person who develops real estate
Main Entry: de·vel·op
3 a: to make active or promote the growth of b (1): to make available or usable (2): to make suitable for commercial or residential purposes
You say eether and I say eyether,
You say neether and I say nyther;
Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!
jane, Let's concentrate on wha't important.
Steve Wright and S. Fred Simmons, don't bother…. the Gershwins already have the copywrite.
Keeping in line with the original item here, are Helton, Johnson, and Johnson residents of Aberdeen? Not property owners or developers but residents living in Aberdeen? If not, they should not be on the voter roll. In that breath, if they are not residents then any signature that they signed on anyone's candidacy petition would be null and void correct?
I may be mistaken but I thought that this election wasn't about partisan politics and frankly anything with Helton's name or endorsement stinks of the Big D Machine.
The problem is there is no clear definition of residence. A few years back when I was living out of county at college, I continued to get my 'official' mail sent to my mom's house in Harford County. I was still officially a Harford County resident, even though I spent most of the nights out of the week sleeping in a College Park dormitory.
Where did I really reside, where did I reside for tax purposes, which is proovable and which matters?
It's a very difficult subject.
And about partisan politics, not defending the New Harford Dems by any means, but let's not forget Fred's Election Day help two years ago, when it looked like state sen. Nancy Jacobs was running for office with all her signs, campaign workers and a last minute mailer coming out in support of Simmons.
The Republican Party was out in full force for Fred, I even recall seeing such prominent GOP as Chuck Boutin and Jim Reilly making appearances outside Simmons' tent while Bill Christoforo, then-leader of the local elephants, kept tabs from afar.
Just like residency wrangling, partisan participation in municipal elections will continue to go unchecked until someone lays down some clear definitions…or case law.
Rick Denu says
You hit the nail on the head here. The past administrations, as well asthe new have all known about the flaws in the charter and the ordinances and have done absolutely nothing about it, or unless it serves them at the time….kinda like now.
I certainly plan to attack that issue with a full legal review of the charter and the ordinances and have those contracted and or departments heads feet to the fire to get it right and fast.
Responing to ACT member from Oct 17th that stated that Art Helton has never given the group any money. I say "bologna"! And even IF he hasn't , he has given them tangible assets, like letting them use his office building for their monthly meetings (for free) and has provided the "lovely" signs that grace the beds of their pickup trucks being driven around the City by people that look and smell like they haven't bathed for extended periods of time. Obviously they have more time AND gas to waste then good sense! How Sad!
But observer, I am discussing the facts.
Brian: The residency problem has been around in Maryland for many years. I think that the latest was Katie O'Malley and her role as a district court judge in a jurisdiction that she does not reside but plans to return to should ole' Marty cease being king or not be able to secure a DC address. Some may say apples and oranges when making a comparison to Johnson but this is the same type of crap that (D) has pulled in Maryland for years. Maryland is rich in the ugliness of voter fraud, candidate fraud, and election fraud, and now the ugly little fraud monster is poking it's head up in good old Aberdeen. This isn't about a student going to school in College Park or a business person that lives out of hotels 7 months of the year, this is about a party that lives in a house in Perryman and has by all accounts not secreted that fact but flaunted it. The same could be said about the great Art Helton who has a lovely agenda up his sleeve and apparently puppets ready to do the dance for him.
I wonder if the newspaper in Momonth New Jersey is following this story? What a joke!
ACT member…….it was not Fred Simmons vote that made Steve Johnson ineligible for council. The people love to blame everything on the person with the title…but never looks deeper into who is really apart of the decisions. He was a cheat and a liar and tried to say he lived in the city when he didn't. If Steve Johnson simply stated he was a business owner and thought he should have the right to have a vote on the matters in the city… he probably would have got it. But instead he straight up lied and made people sign a petition, INCLUDING Bennetts wife, another liar in the family, stating he lives in the city. Why lie? Why get mad at the mayor when you get called out? He didn't make the laws. If they city votes for a mayor, Bennett, who is backed by such liars, the city gets what it votes for.