Delmar Candidates Think They’ve Found a Money Tree

This opinion piece is part of a series ahead of the Delmar, Maryland local election.

Over the 20-ish years I’ve been interviewing politicians, I’ve developed a central question I ask myself after they say something so outlandishly wrong or misleading that I have to clear my head: Which one of us is stupid?

What I mean by that, is either they don’t know that they’re being misleading, or they do know and think I can’t tell.

By those lights, Benjamin Jorden is a tough nut to crack.

In a recent video, Jorden ranted that the town still doesn’t have a community center. The former police station had been suggested for that upgrade under then-Mayor Carl Anderton, but the project has stalled.

Jorden attributed it to laziness or disinterest on the part of the Maryland Commission.

During our truncated interview, he bragged to me that a state official had guaranteed him funding for the community center. When I pressed he declined to name the official, in case the funding didn’t work out.

Jorden’s Money Tree

The list of Maryland officials who can and would promise to give Delmar funding (in case you didn’t know) is laughably short. One phone call later I had my answer.

Anderton, now a state delegate, confirmed to me that the “guarantee” Jorden was talking about was the same guarantee that has always been in place. It’s even been discussed and reported upon.

What Jorden didn’t know, or elected not to mention, is that the state doesn’t walk around handing out building rehab checks. If the town is willing to put up half of the money to do the renovation, the state will happily contribute the other half.

That has always been the deal.

The difficulty is the town will still have to come up with a lot of money just to get the project started.

Jorden’s obsession in being given things rather than earning them is breathtaking.

Further, since the state doesn’t fund staffing or maintenance, the town will have to absorb those expenses as well.

That’s not to say that the town can’t put together a plan to renovate, maintain and staff a community center, but Jorden’s buy, fund, plan approach to governance should at least be questioned.

While he absolutely can (and may) tap the reserves for the money, the town with the crumbling infrastructure and new, expensive police force would have another recurring expense.

At the risk of belaboring the point, once he and his friends have majority control over the commission, “buy, fund, plan” could very well become the town motto.

Jorden’s Community Center Fantasy

In his video, Jorden said the community center could be open this summer. That is true only in the sense that someone could take a key and unlock it by then.

As far as the town having a functional community center, staffed by professionals and safe for children, it’s just something that can’t happen by summer.

If his rhetoric holds, though, it won’t really be a real community center. Jorden wants to get some “local churches” to run it. In his mind it’s more a proselytization center where troubled kids can get the churching up they need.

If anything bad happens, though, the town would be on the hook for it.

What’s worrying is that he genuinely seems to believe it never occurred to anyone that if they could get free money and free labor, they could have a community center.

Jorden’s obsession in being given things rather than earning them is breathtaking.

He wants grants for more policemen, he wants grants for more street work, he wants grants for his proposed faith-based community center above and beyond the 50% the state will contribute.

Jorden apparently believes in using grants as if they don’t have entailments, and as if they don’t come to an end.

The reason programs fail, and the reason so many grants go unrewarded, is because grants often set a new bar for expenses that a town has to meet.

Getting funding to start something is easy, finding funding to keep it going is really, really tricky. It’s something someone who wants to be mayor should know. If it’s something they do know, it’s also something they should be honest about.

Previous election stories

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Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light” https://amzn.to/3bLQ0Wi

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Tony Russo

Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light” https://amzn.to/3bLQ0Wi

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