THE GREASE MONKEY THAT BECAME KING – Mike Hewitt Becoming a Benevolent Dictator; Grilled Elected States Attorney Over Plans to Bring Prosecutors Office Out of Dark Ages
By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
News and Commentary
LEONARDTOWN, MD. – Once upon a time, a former St. Mary’s School Board member was a member of a charter government review committee appointed by the Democrat-controlled St. Mary’s Commissioner Board led by Democrat Jack Russell. At a meeting in 2008 of the committee, officially titled the Form of Government Task Force, John K. Parlett Jr said that St. Mary’s County should have a county executive who could function as a ‘benevolent dictator.’ Parlett was immediately chastised by former Senator J. Frank Raley, who was the guest speaker at the meeting, for his use of such an authoritarian term and told that his comment might doom the effort underway to change the form of government for St. Mary’s.
Sen. Raley told Parlett that the term wasn’t helpful in building needed public support for the switch to charter government that they both supported. Raley knew only too well as he proposed and supported two prior efforts in 1972 and 1988, both of which failed. Raley was joined in his criticism of Parlett by Senator Roy Dyson, who said, “A benevolent dictator is not what St. Mary’s County needs.”
Sen. Raley said that the effort to bring charter government had been defeated in the past by pointing out that the move would increase the cost of government. “This is a type of government under which 80% of the nation lives now”, said Raley. What he didn’t say, said Dyson was that 80 percent of the nation’s population is in an urban or suburban area, unlike St. Mary’s still being a predominantly rural area.
“Baltimore City has charter government, and they bring more bills to the legislature each year than anyone; all authorization for legislation has to win the approval of the General Assembly,” said Dyson.
Raley, long an advocate of bringing more government to the county, was Senator from 1962 to 1966 when he lost the Democratic Primary to Walter B. Dorsey.
As a result, voters turned down the charter government for the third time.
Parlett was St. Mary’s County school board president in 2001 when the school board refused to rescind a decision by the school system which barred students from selling signs proclaiming “God Bless America” in schools to raise money for the Red Cross following the 911 attack that year. Parlett, who had been favored to run for county commissioner in 2002, decided not to run for any office. He had been mentioned as an expected candidate for county executive should the county adopt charter government and switch to a council and elected executive form of government.
Randall won the election as Commissioner President in 1998 over incumbent Republican Barbara Thompson, and her campaign treasurer for that race was a fellow Democrat and a service station owner. His name was Michael Hewitt. Hewitt transitioned to the Republican Party after he lost the Democratic nomination for commissioner president in 2006 to Jack Russell and, in 2014, won the election as commissioner representing the Hollywood and Leonardtown district. Hewitt was also elected to the St. Mary’s Board of Education.
Hewitt has taken advantage of the weakness of St. Mary’s Commissioner President Randy Guy as a leader. He actively works up backroom deals where all discussion of spending proposals takes place in secret sessions in violation of the St. Mary’s County Open Meetings Act.
The commissioners unartfully label their sessions as personnel when the decisions to replace top officials in the Emergency Management Services dealt with incompetent and perhaps corrupt actions in spending public monies and, at the least, deserve to be discussed with the public privy to their own government actions. The purpose of the 1976 Open Meetings Act was to prevent the St. Mary’s County Commissioners from doing business in the back room took place in 1973 when the Board issued a building permit for an oil refinery at Piney Point, which was later defeated in a public referendum in July of 1974.
Hewitt’s back room secret deals
One such example occurred in 2022 when Commissioner Mike Hewitt attempted to ram through a proposal to buy unneeded land from the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad, spending more than a half million dollars for the purpose of building a parking lot and restroom for those walking on the trail that runs from Hughesville to Lexington Park instead of placing a couple of rental Johns.
Hewitt is hellbent on having public monies spent for a YMCA next to Great Mills High School, where the county already has a large swimming facility that the school system fails to utilize as part of the physical education program of Great Mills High School. Supporters of the YMCA say the facility would have a warmer swimming pool. Still, the difference in water temperature between the covered county parks and recreation pool and the YMCA pool is only three degrees.
There are eleven YMCAs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and all are privately funded and supported by users. The Eastern Shore of Virginia boasts three more YMCAs.
In his third and final term as a St. Mary’s Commissioner, Hewitt, restricted by term limits and having too much time on his hands after retiring from his service station business, appears to be building his legacy by providing a payoff to developers for intensive commercial and residential development which will increase more demands for schools, police, roads, and services.
Commissioner Todd Morgan, now elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, kept Hewitt in line on his many spending schemes over the past two terms. Still, with new and novice politicians Scott Ostrow and Mike Alderson representing Lexington Park and the north end of the county, Hewitt is clearly in the driver’s seat. All the Board gained powerful support from developers in the county who have one agenda – bring Waldorf to St. Mary’s County.
Mike Hewitt funded liberal Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign
04/19/2006 Hewitt, Michael L. Individual Cash 1000.00 O’Malley, Martin Friends Of 2006 Gubernatorial Pre-Primary Electoral
08/08/2006 Hewitt, Michael L. Individual Check 1000.00 O’Malley, Martin Friends Of 2006 Gubernatorial
Mike Hewitt, while on Board of Appeals, said citizen who built sidewalk to her pier for her handicapped husband should cut the walkway on each side making it too narrow for his wheelchair.
Hewitt has contributed to Fritz but not to Sterling
06/06/2010 Hewitt, Michael L – Individual Check 250.00 Fritz, Richard D. Bi-part.Comm For The Re-election of, State 2010 Gubernatorial Pre-Primary1 State’s Attorney (St. Mary’s) Electoral
09/28/2014 Hewitt, Michael L – Individual Check 250 Fritz, Richard D. Bi-part.Comm For The Re-election of, State 2014 Gubernatorial Pre-General2 Report State’s Attorney (St. Mary’s)
05/10/2022 Hewitt, Michael Individual Check 100 Fritz, Richard D. Bi-part.Comm For The Re-election of, State 2022 Gubernatorial Pre-Primary1 State’s Attorney (St. Mary’s) , State’s Attorney (St. Mary’s)
Republican Commissioner Mike Hewitt even donated to Sterling’s father’s Democrat opponent in the 2018 election
06/28/2018 Hewitt, Michael 47 CAV, APO, AE 96224 Individual Credit Card 13.5 Jealous, Ben Friends of 2018 Gubernatorial Pre-General1 Report Governor (SBE)
At the January 24th meeting of the St. Mary’s Commissioners, as seen on a clip with this story, St.-Marys-County-States-Attorney-Jaymi-Sterling brought the Board a funding request for four more staffers and new software to bring the prosecutor’s office up to date.
Sterling attempted to provide a detailed presentation that the public could follow on the large television screens and YouTube live and record the meeting.
Still, County Administrator David Weiskopf blocked her from doing so in spite of a citizen bringing a thumbdrive to a Commissioners public forum in 2022 to show how the Pot Factory at Abell has impacted the creek with the huge facility that was allowed in a residential neighborhood in a critical area without any public hearing.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt is a member of the Critical Area Commission which failed to block this industrial intrusion into the Critical Area.
Asked later about the detailed presentation failing to be shown, Weiskopf said that USB add-ons to a presentation present a danger to corrupting the county technology and asked that such presentations be emailed in advance.
As a result, States Attorney Sterling read her proposal, which included county-by-county descriptions of similar populations and the staff and resources in at least a half dozen counties.
Fritz-era technology served the desires of his top staff
All of the counties referenced by Sterling showed clearly that the St. Mary’s States Attorney’s Office is understaffed. The information technology equipment left behind by former States Attorney Fritz was fitting for his underworked and overpaid senior staff to view adult entertainment instead of being linked to the Maryland Judicial System.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt appeared to be confused over his role as a member of the Board of Commissioners, which Maryland law requires to fund the needs of the State’s Attorney’s Office. Hewitt grilled Sterling as if she were a department head coming hat in hand for a dip in the public trough.
On the contrary, Sterling’s presentation was professional, thorough, and detailed to show the nearly $800,000 in funding for the technology remake of the state’s attorney’s office and the extra positions to provide the needed public safety. Sterling served as the senior deputy states attorney before quitting over the decisions by Fritz to redirect funds to a female staffer two years ago. Her position at that level gave her more than adequate ability to learn what was right and what was utterly inefficient in the Fritz regime.
Sterling took her case to the voters, and in the 2022 GOP primary, she crushed Fritz like a fifties Chevy Belair in a junkyard.
Now Hewitt, at the January 24th meeting, even though he claimed Sterling was given a mandate, decided to lay on a layer of everything he learned about prosecuting crime in his career running a service station.
Hewitt joined the rest of the Board of Commissioners in approving both the staff and technology funding and certainly won himself a free day of duck hunting with Fritz.