The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Centreville, MD: The Time For Expansion Is Yesterday

This is an op-ed that may or may not be being published in the Queen Anne's County Register (our local paper). Essentially, our town is struggling with certain issues of growth and government, and some of us have come to the conclusion (as is clear) that the Town Council ought to be expanded from three to five people.

Here it is:

The Time For Expansion Is Yesterday
By Andrew Langer

As one of the “small group of citizens” working to expand Centreville’s Town Council, I thought it would be a good idea to lay out just some of the reasons we not only believe this to be a good idea, but why it needs to be done sooner, rather than later.

It would be cliché to say that Centreville is at a turning point – and not entirely accurate, either. In fact, Centreville’s turning point was reached several years ago, when local elected officials (and some unelected) decided to greatly expand the community by approving a series of large development projects on the edges of town. Controversial or not, the reality is that Northbrook, Symphony Village, and all the rest of these new housing areas have made Centreville a much larger town.

That alone calls for consideration of an expansion of the council.

But population concerns aside, there are some fundamental “good government” reasons why the council needs to be expanded.

As the most basic level, there is a fatal flaw in any government body that allows a motion to carry simply on its being moved and seconded, as is the case currently. Having two members constituting a majority gives the Town Council the ability to govern without any discussion or debate over the issues being considered, effectively stifling the democratic process. It creates serious “balance of power” issues, inasmuch as the rights of a concerned minority are at risk of being thwarted.

Second, the Town Council (and therefore, the town of Centreville) faces serious liability from having only three council members – and not in the abstract sense. As has been demonstrated time and time again, any time two members of the Town Council talk to one another outside of public meetings, they are in violation of Maryland’s open meetings laws. There have been numerous violations of this found by the state, and allegations are happening on an almost weekly basis.

And who can blame the Town Council members for this? They are put in a ludicrous position – having to effectively put all their interactions in front of the public, when, in fact, they ought to be able to informally talk to each other out of the public eye. It puts Town Council President Mary McCarthy in the unenviable position of being unable to seek counsel from her fellow council members on an individual basis, without being in violation of the law.

This, of course, manifests itself in the current dysfunction of the council, a level of acrimony not seen in many years, according to some longtime Centreville residents. Any political leader ought to be able to talk to fellow elected officials, one-on-one, in order to solicit private advice and move towards consensus. Without that ability, the people of this town lose out (no matter who presides over the council).

Finally, as the town has expanded, so have the issues facing the town grown more complicated and time consuming. Centreville has seen time and again issues that required more man-hours than our council members could possibly give. Expanding the council by two more members would allow for greater delegations of responsibility, two more sets of eyes that could keep watch over the issues so vitally important to the town’s residents.

This is not so complicated a decision that it requires months of study. Public input has been and will continue to be ongoing – in fact, Mary McCarthy has made gathering that input a priority, and scheduled a hearing on the issue. This will allow for the citizens of town to come together, voice their concerns, learn (hopefully) from those whose views do not match their own, and reach some sort of accord on the subject. That public airing (and subsequent council meetings in which the resolution will be raised) will allow for the full public debate the issue requires.

All too often, people confuse prolonged deliberation with action. While sometimes this is true, in many instances deliberation is merely a masked desire for inaction - in other words, a delaying or stalling tactic. Expansion of Centreville’s Town Council cannot and should not be delayed. For legal reasons, for ethical reasons, for public policy reasons, we need to expand the Town Council as soon as possible. It’s a change that should have been done yesterday.

Andrew Langer is a resident of Centreville


Blogger Andrew Langer said...

Published in Full - but with a different title.

June 16, 2006 10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Date: 2006-06-16, 10:48AM EDT

In December of 2003, John Berlau learned of the death of Teresa Howell. Howell was an “escort” who went by the name “Summer Breeze” and worked out of a Georgetown townhouse.

Berlau wanted to do an exposé on the Washington sex trade. He tried to infiltrate several local “sex communities” operating on web sites such as but was not successful. Then, as now, he tried his usual “if you do not work with me I will give you negative publicity” stunt but apparently the members of these communities did not take him seriously.

Since then, Berlau has developed an obsession with prostitutes. On occasion, he has participated in “sting” operations with local police forces. He will work with them to entrap prostitutes, and then try to get information out of them. A typical arrangement is that if they will help him with this exposé he still dreams of writing, he will “fix” things with the police. Another typical arrangement is that if they will “take care of him” he will “take care of them”!

Not long ago Berlau, in conjunction with Reason magazine, one of the usual outlets for his writing, was going to announce this as a show of how influential the libertarians, or more properly, neocons, are. This was leaked and local prostitutes booed Reason’s Jacob Sullum off the stage in Las Vegas.

As part of the preparation for this story, Reason contacted web developers who had made sites for escorts and tried to extract information from them. In most cases, the Berlau “talk or be smeared” tactic was used. Senior people at Reason, including Jacob Sullum, Charles Paul Freund and Nick Gillespie supported these activities.

Berlau is at it again. This time, he has targeted Korean-operated massage establishments. Just recently, he assisted in entrapping a “masseuse” at Kim’s in Annandale. It is not known what “compensation” Berlau received along the way.

This is the worst kind of journalism. If Berlau can’t get his facts honestly, he should try something else. What he is doing is extortion, and he is doing it in the context of a potentially unhealthy obsession.

June 16, 2006 1:03 PM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

I call "bullshit" on this - there was never any substantiation of the initial Berlau story, or the subsequent retellings on Craigslist.

When I questioned this and wrote my blog article about it, I got dragged into it as well - someone was posting fantasies of me being involved in trysts with Mimi Roger and a former CEI staffer.

Having attended the Reason conference in Las Vegas, including Jacob Sullum's presentation, I know for a fact that nobody booed him, let alone by a group of local prostitutes.

Incidentally, I now have a pretty good idea of where these stories are coming from, and who this anonymous poster is.

So, you're being called on it. I care much less about your identity than I am about someone like John Berlau getting his name dragged through the mud _AGAIN_.

Substantiate your claims, and if you cannot, then offer an apology.

- Andrew Langer

June 16, 2006 1:40 PM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

True to form, just as he did back in October, as soon as I called "bullshit" on him, he started posting on Craigslist about me with a furious pace.

What's funny is that he just doesn't get it: every time he posts his nonsense about me,or John Berlau, or Myron, or Greg or Solveig, he doesn't come across as honest or heroic or interested in meaningful debate. No, he just makes himself look worse. He comes across as this pathetic, frustrated, little coward.

You want to take a shot at me and be taken seriously? Then challenge me on the substance of what I write, say, or do, and do so after dropping the shroud of anonymity.

You think I hang out at an ice cream parlor and that others can find me there? Name it, and then why don't _YOU_ meet me there?

Until then, little man (and yes, I know who you are), you're exactly what I say that you are: a pathetic, frustrated coward who has to peddle bullshit from a hiding place in order to make himself feel bigger.

Truly sad.

June 17, 2006 5:23 PM


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