DRAMA QUEEN OF DOGPATCH THOMASINA COATES RULES CHARLES COUNTY WITH AN IRON BANANA
News and Commentary
by Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
LAPLATA, MD. – Decades ago, a favorite comic strip in newspapers entitled ‘Lil Abner’ told of the adventures of hillbillies in a small town somewhere in Arkansas, with the town dubbed “Dogpatch”.
For many years, the area of Malcolm, in Charles County, picked up the moniker as a derisive description of the rural antics that typified life in the area.
In the past fifty years, as the commercial and residential development sought by fat cat developers was approved by the Boards of Charles County Commissioners and their real-estate industry appointees to the Zoning and Planning Boards let loose huge new housing developments centered around Waldorf.
As the demographics changed when blacks fled the crime and high taxes of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, the population in Charles County became less white, and fewer Republicans were elected to office as newer residents brought their political preferences with them and applied those views to local government.
The shift culminated in the Democratic Party Primary election in 2018 with the defeat of Democrat powerhouse and seven-term incumbent Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, a farmer, banker, and Good Old Boy, by Arthur Ellis, an accountant from Indian Head.
In the 2022 primary election, three-term Democrat incumbent Bobby Rucci, a restauranteur from Waldorf, lost his bid for another term to Ralph Patterson. Patterson joined the all-Democrat board with Gilbert Bowling, the lone white commissioner.
Commissioner President Rueben Collins soon became an ally to Commissioner Thomasina Coates as he has his eye on creating Charter-style government in Charles County and looks forward to becoming County Executive. Patterson is said to have the same desire for power.
In January of 2023, Circuit Court Judge Leo Green issued an injunction stating that Coates could not participate in any vote to fire County Administrator Mark Belton after an investigation showed she had used racially abusive language towards him. In 2020 Coates was censured by the other four commissioners in 2020 for harassment and acts of bias against Belton, who is white.
The Charles Commissioners had hired Belton in 2012, then a new board fired Belton in 2016 and then he was hired by Governor Larry Hogan as Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and then returned to Charles County as Administrator in 2019. When Belton returned, he had a new contract that called for him to be the sole decision maker on the hiring of department directors and the county attorney.
The current drama enveloping the Banana Republic of Charles County centers around Coates as she has been pinpointed in creating a hostile workplace for Charles County employees by insisting that only blacks be hired for county government posts and branding anyone who opposes her as racist.
REPORT ALLEGED COMMISSIONER THOMASINA COATES WAS RACIALLY ABUSIVE TOWARDS COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR MARK BELTON
The Charles County Commissioner hired an independent investigator to probe all accusations surrounding the turmoil and the results were revealed in a document which is published with this article below, entitled the Stinson Report.
The investigation reveals a county government in turmoil which should land it the laughingstock of the Maryland Association of Counties and be awarded the Golden Banana, should the organization have such a designation.
OPEN MEETINGS ACT VIOLATIONS
The series of meetings in which the Charles Commissioners have voted on actions in private session may have committed multiple violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Law.
COATES BARRED FROM TAKING PART IN ANY ACTIONS INVOLVING COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR MARK BELTON
The Southern Maryland News reported:
“An injunction that prevents Commissioner Thomasina O. Coates (D) from having any input on the job status of County Administrator Mark Belton was upheld in Charles County Circuit Court on Sept. 8.
Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Leo E. Green Jr. made the ruling in a case that has become the defining factor in the first year of the new board of Charles County commissioners and cost taxpayers $1.35 million so far since the start of the legal proceedings.
The decision leaves in place a preliminary injunction that enforces the prompt and remedial actions taken by the board in a June 2020 closed session that barred Coates from having any say in the job status of Belton. Coates was barred from decisions involving Belton’s status with the county after commissioners were made aware of the results of a report from Bernadette Sargeant, partner at Stinson LLP, compiled in May 2020 that alleged Coates engaged in racially abusive conduct toward Belton.
Mariam Tadros, the attorney representing Coates, called the decision three years ago “arbitrary and capricious,” and likened Sargeant to a press secretary for the county.
“The enactment of the prompt remedial action was an ambush on my client,” Tadros told the judge, adding that the action was not properly enacted and that no sunset provision had been added.
However, Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins II (D) stated when called to testify by the defense that Alexis Blackwell, human resources director, hired Sargeant to perform the investigation and that he did not have any input in her involvement.
Andrew Levy, attorney for Commissioner Gilbert “BJ” Bowling” (D) and Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D), argued that the board enacted the prompt remedial action as a part of its administrative functions.
Levy also added that Coates admitted in deposition that the board does perform administrative functions.
The Sept. 8 hearing also featured several hours of testimony from Stewart, which shed new light into the events before and during a contentious Dec. 13, 2022, closed session meeting.”
Advance the timeline of the video below of the Charles County Commissioners Meeting of October 24, 2023, to 1.35 point for the beginning of the discussion about the report on the investigation.
From Facebook Post of: Republican Women Of Charles County, MD
Charles County Commissioners Meeting Oct. 24, 2023
From the Facebook Post of Angela Parker:
This is the Sh*t Show; three of our Commissioners are running here in Charles County. These are the three who are pushing for Charter Government – so they can be further insulated from The People in carrying out their nefarious agenda, whatever that may be.
Collins, Patterson & Coates are not representing The People of Charles County. If they were, this would have never happened. The very least they owe us is transparency. But it appears as if something is being covered up, and they are refusing to do the right thing.
Coates is a bully and a racist. She fosters a hostile work environment when she doesn’t get her way. After the first report where she was found guilty of such, instead of correcting her behavior she has retaliated against those involved. And this will continue until outside forces put an end to it. Clearly, these three are incapable of properly governing.
Coates is exposing the County (the taxpayers) to civil liability because all of these impacted employees, of which I understand there are 19 to date, could sue the County for allowing this behavior to continue unchecked.
Collins and Patterson are covering for Coates to serve whatever grand plan they may have. Why, I don’t know, but it stinks.
Gilbert Bowling and Amanda Stewart are doing everything possible to do the right thing.
We need citizens to be informed, involved, and outraged by this egregious behavior.
I have filed a lawsuit asking the Court to order a release to the public of the 2nd Sargeant Report redacted to protect the employees. It’s not an easy battle, and I am doing it without a lawyer for now.
We must save our County Government from this madness. Anyone who is willing to file complaints with appropriate agencies to get as much light shining on this mess as possible – please DM me.
It is time to bombard them with oversight, investigations and demand accountability.
Don’t forget this when these three ask for your vote to support Charter Government, which they want very much so, and when they are running to be in charge of the Charter Government, they are selling to us.
Likely the most embarrassing report about the operations of a Maryland county in history. A racist county commissioner running rogue and terrorizing county employees as she seeks dominance over all, using skin color as her bludgeoning tool. Two of her fellow commissioners are lining up to protect her as the taxpayers get hosed by the three of them to pay unnecessary legal expenses caused by this racial mayhem.
Two commissioners, Gilbert Bowling and Amanda Stewart are shown by their actions in the above meeting, are acting within the law to properly represent the citizens of Charles County.
COATES HAS HER SAY IN THE INTERVIEW BELOW
COATES CALLS THE JUDGE’S DECISION TO BLOCK HER FROM VOTING TO DISMISS AN AT-WILL EMPLOYEE OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS DISAPPOINTING
Thomasina Coates in an interview with bmorenews.com
Interview with Commissioner Thomasina Coates with bmorenews.com
(LA PLATA, MD – October 6, 2023) – Charles County Commissioner Thomasina Coates is experiencing a case of reverse discrimination in Charles County, MD. Check out this Q&A as she explains what is going on and how she came to be a target of racially motivated actions against her.
Q: Commissioner Coates, you‘ve been at the center of controversy in Charles County that’s erupted into name-calling, and you are being the target of vicious attacks because you tried to cast a deciding vote to terminate the at-will employee who was serving as county administrator in your county in December 2022. But you were not allowed the vote because of a censure imposed on you in 2020, before your second election. What is that about?
You’re right. In 2022, there was a completely new sitting Board of Commissioners. In last December’s session – 2022, the President opened the session by saying I could vote. In fact, I was the deciding vote on the termination. County residents may not know or understand that I was also the deciding vote in 2020 to terminate this same employee when the censure was put in place.
Q: Help us understand how voting to terminate an at-will employee turned into news stories claiming that the 2020 censure was due to an investigation that claims to have proven racial discrimination by you against this employee. I assume he was white?
That’s right. It’s a false allegation, and the coverage has been a vicious assault on my reputation. For a little insight into 2020, I only saw a summary of this so-called investigation. I never saw the whole report until this year when my attorney obtained a copy.
Q: What did it say?
It’s quite a fantasy document in which the attorney said that the employee’s claim against me was that “he was subjected to an abusive and hostile work environment.” I should note here that that is a conclusion the so-called investigator came to.
From his rehiring – after being previously let go by the way – I can say that our relationship was challenged.
But as I said in my statement last May – when I was finally able to speak, when the employee was asked if my treatment of him was related to his race, he said, “Coates has been upset with me because I am not willing to be a willing ally in making race-based decisions to advance her agenda.” He even went on to say he did not think Coates treated him this way because he was white.
In January, to dig in, I guess, two of my fellow commissioners filed a lawsuit that this employee joined, which attempts to accuse me of racial discrimination.
We’ve been in court since then, wasting over a million dollars of taxpayer’s money because we can’t fire an at-will employee! It’s not an effective use of taxpayer money.
And really, Doni, that’s the story in a nutshell, but it’s nothing but a distraction and camouflage of what really going on in Charles County.
It’s really a story about change in Charles County and three policy choices the Board of Commissioners made to deal with change effectively and to advance fairness and equity in the county.
Those choices are what the county administrator called my race-based agenda!
Q: You say Change in Charles County is the real story, changes agreed to by the whole Board, – not just you. What changes are you talking about???
Doni, change is happening in Charles County. Our demographics have changed. Our population now is 60% black and brown. That makes this demographic group of taxpayers financing a large portion of the county budget. And that investment in the county gives them the right to expect fair and equal treatment in county employment, in county services, and in business dealings such as county procurement.
Those are the issues the Board made three sound, fair decisions about. For instance: MORE