Boondoggle boosters try to silence criticism of hotel with Facebook complaint

After a piece headed “Rebid Hotel/Conference Center” was posted to the Friends of Frederick County Marriott Hotel Watch Facebook page someone demanded that Facebook take it down, claiming it contained “abusive content.” For some hours it was missing from the site.

When the poster Jane Weir tried to re-post the piece she got a response from Facebook saying it had been removed after “a complaint of abusive content.”

Jane Weir

The charge makes no sense.

The piece by George Wenschhof contains nothing remotely abusive. It is critical of the City’s handling of the project for sure. It says that the City has “repeatedly fumbled and stumbled” in its handling of the project, and that it has become “convoluted” and is “destined to be a failure for taxpayers.”

Noting that the Maryland Stadium Authority unanimously decided to dump the project,
and MEDCO tabled it, it was hardly a surprise, the article says, that Governor Hogan decided to zero it out of state support in his budget proposal.

“These actions combined have effectively put the current proposed project on life support with the likelihood of it moving forward zero. The proposed hotel complex is too large and requires too much public support.”

The claim from project boosters that if the current project fails to go forward then there won’t be another chance for 30 years is “a bunch of malarkey,” writes Wenschhof.

Wenschhof argues for a rebid of the project but only after public agreement on an acceptable public subsidy, and agreement on the size of the project. Many have argued 207 rooms and 24,000sf of meeting space is excessive for the market, as well as producing a building complex of excessive scale relative its setting in the historic district. Wenschhof suggests the public support should be limited to 10 percent of project cost versus 37% ($31m of $84m) in the current City proposal. And Wenschhof wants a developer to fully fund the project through the approvals process, and only then be considered for City and other taxpayer assistance.

A moderate in every respect

The author, a former county employee who after retirement has been an active commentator on local affairs is a centrist Democrat. He is a long established local personality, and regarded as a moderate in both the way he expresses himself and in his stances on issues.

“I strongly support an appropriately sized downtown hotel/conference center and believe this addition will be a good fit for The City of Frederick. I also appreciate the efforts by community stakeholders to make this project a reality,” he writes.

That hotel supporters would try to suppress such commentary with a complaint to Facebook is extraordinary, and suggests they fear further open debate on the issue.

Facebook adjudicators restored the posted article after being asked to review it for the alleged “abusive” content.

Wenschhof’s piece can be read in full here:


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