Sunday, October 15, 2017

A month's journey circles back to the Talbot County Commisioners

Still only a light where the Union Talbot
Boys should be.
About a month ago, I began a simple quest to raise money for a memorial.

Ok, for those readers who may have missed the drama, almost a year and a half ago, the Talbot County Commissioners in Maryland voted to keep a memorial honoring Confederate veterans of Talbot County on the courthouse grounds.  At the time of their decision, they also ruled that a comparable memorial to the Union veterans from Talbot County could be built next to the current Confederate memorial in order to tell the whole story.

A year and a half later is where the story takes a sad turn.  The forces that wanted to tear down the Confederate memorial made no effort to begin the fundraising project of building a Union veterans memorial.  The forces defending the Confederate memorial made no effort to begin the fundraising project of building a Union veterans memorial.

Considering the emotions on both sides, I felt for sure the "community activists" involved in the dispute would immediately get to work building a Union memorial.  Obviously, all that feel good, heal old wounds rhetoric was just that - empty rhetoric.  Neither side desired to build anything.

With the latest round of anti-Confederate sentiment sweeping the country, Mr. Potter, president of the Talbot branch of the NAACP, reiterated, in no uncertain terms, the Talbot Boys needs to go.  Sadly, he has yet to see the importance of building a monument to the Union soldiers of Talbot who fought the Civil War.

Since neither side wanted to do something good for the community in the last year and a half, I decided to go ahead and start a project to raise money for the Union Talbot Boys.  To catch you up to speed, please review my two earlier letters to the Talbot County Commissioners on this topic: Why did the NAACP let the Yankees die and Maybe Union soldiers aren't welcomed in Talbot County.

After writing those letters, I received a couple of generic answers that were enough to send me on a quest.  Starting at my bank, I learned I needed to form a nonprofit organization to start raising money.  So I turned to the Small Business Administration in Salisbury to figure out how I could form a nonprofit.  They were helpful, but the help stopped at Internet links because the legalities of starting a nonprofit was beyond  the scope of their organization.

The SBA did, however, offer suggestions I hadn't thought of.  I turned to local organizations, all of whom were unable to help, but referred me to other organizations.  Eventually I found one organization, that couldn't help, but did make it clear that the Talbot County Commissioners needed to make a commitment to a Union memorial project.

That organization inspired me to write the following letter to the Talbot County Commissioners:

Dear County Commissioners,

I wrote you a month ago (13 SEP) about how a guy who works full time with a dollar in his pocket could raise money for a monument honoring the Union veterans from Talbot who fought in the Civil War.  For the past month I have been on a fantastic and eye-opening journey.

I could "go it alone", which means I need to form a nonprofit and start raising money.  While starting a nonprofit to raise the money is a possible option, it is an option far above my knowledge and resources.  To find an alternative option, I talked to about a half dozen organizations I thought might be able to help.  All of them were extremely helpful and bent over backwards to try to point me in the right direction, but all of them shared one concern in varying degrees.  Does the County support an effort for the new memorial and can they guarantee that if the money is raised, the land on the County will permit a second Talbot Boys memorial?

I reckon what I need to know now are two things:

  • Have you made a binding rule that a second memorial can be built and erected next to the current Talbot Boys and where could I find proof of that rule? 
  • If there is no binding rule that would convince key organizations and potential donors of the County's commitment to a memorial project, what do I need to do to get that commitment from you?

Most of the people I have talked to so far are reluctant to commit themselves in any way for various reasons, but (based on what I think I am hearing them say) I'm willing to bet that if they felt they had the County's support for the project, they would be more conducive to helping - and a Union Talbot Boys will be a few steps closer to becoming a reality instead of just an idea.


That letter got an immediate response from Jennifer Williams, President of the Talbot County Council.  She thanked me for my email and informed me that she was forwarding my email to the legal department to provide me with the legalities of monuments on the courthouse grounds as set a few years ago to allow the Frederick Douglass monument.

The legal department sent me legalese documents that afternoon outlining the Frederick Douglass monument process that set the standards for future monuments.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the county commitment I needed so I followed up the legal departmen't letter with my letter below:

Dear Mr. Kupersmith,

Thank you for the information and sending it so quickly.  Perhaps you or any of the County Commissioners would be so kind as to answer a question for me.
According to point 5, even if a monument qualifies to be displayed on the courthouse grounds, the administrative resolution, itself, does not create an entitlement for the monument to be erected, hence the need to draft the second administrative resolution specifically authorizing the Frederick Douglass statue.  Do I need a second administrative resolution drafted specifically addressing the Union Talbot Boys monument and, if so, how do I go about getting one done?

Given the current sentiments towards anything Civil War, I get the sense the people of the organizations I talked to would be more willing to help if the County would support the project being located next to the current Talbot Boys monument (as long as it met all the requirements as outlined in the administrative resolution you sent me).   Without such a County commitment, raising money for the monument will be a daunting task and may not gain the necessary organizational and community support it needs to succeed.  There will always be an underlying fear that a Union Talbot Boys monument may not have a home once it is completed and I don't think I need to tell you that people don't like spending their time and money on dead end projects.

Again, thank you for your time and I hope you can point me in the right direction of what I need to do next.

This may have been the last politician to have believed those words.
As of Friday, 13 OCT 17, the response was that I was probably correct in stating I needed an administrative resolution specifically addressing a Union Talbot Boys memorial and he (Mr. Kupersmith, acting county attorney) would get back with me as to the how and when such a resolution would be appropriate.

Yeah, I know.  Legalese to cover one's butt.

Best I can tell, the ball is in the County Commissioners court now.  A rich person could probably have the memorial built and erected by week's end.  A guy working full time with a dollar in his pocket might get it erected in a couple of year's time assuming he he can get some kind support from his elected officials.

TL;DR folks:
There's a second monument that needs to be erected in Talbot County.  No one wants to make the effort to get it built.  It's still in the works.

The whole Talbot Boys saga:
Maybe Union soldiers aren't welcomed in Talbot County

Why did the NAACP let the Yankees die?
On the road to irrelevancy
NAACP and Mr. Potter fighting to tear down the Vietnam War Memorial
Only time will reveal the true motives of Talbot Boys detractors
Final thoughts on the Talbot Boys
No to trash-talking our veterans
The Great Confederate Purge of 2015
The insolence of youth
An open letter to Talbot County
The first secession from the United States, 2015
Letter to the House in SC
The cultural cleansing

For your listening pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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