Robin Ficker, a former Montgomery County state legislator, was shouted down and shoved away from a podium last night as he tried to explain to angry residents of Laytonsville why he is delaying settlement of a costly lawsuit against the county.
Ficker was explaining that he would not drop his suit against the county--even though county officials and the Laytonsville residents have already agreed on settlement terms--when Ray Schoenke, a member of the local civic association who is also a former member of the Washington Redskins football team, shouted: "Robin, you're playing politics with our lives. . . I think you're being very unfair and very insensitive."
As Ficker tried to continue, Harold O'Flaherty, president of the Greater Laytonsville Civic Association, shouted: "You're through, turkey! Sit down or I'll put you down!" O'Flaherty then shoved Ficker away from the podium, shouting, "Get his face out of here."
The Laytonsville citizens were angry because the county government has agreed to pay their civic association $95,000 to help cover the legal costs of the group's long losing battle to keep a new county landfill out of their rural community. Ficker is the only holdout to the agreement, saying that he refuses to settle until the Maryland Court of Appeals rules on the validity of his 1978 county charter amendment banning landfills in residential neighborhoods.
Ficker's amendment won 70 percent of the vote across the county, but Montgomery officials installed a new landfill in Laytonsville anyway and maintained that the amendment was unconstitutional.
Ficker tried to make himself heard over the shouting to say that "I want a clear, unfettered ruling by the highest court in Maryland" before he would agree to a settlement. "Dumps are too obnoxious to be put in residential areas," he said, adding, "I'm still your friend, whether you all think so or not."
Ficker, who was defeated for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates last year, writes a political column for a weekly county newspaper and is said to be considering running for Congress.
Last night's confrontation came at the end of a meeting at which civic association leaders gave the latest bad news about the landfill that sits atop the ground that supplies well water in the area.
Two weeks ago, it was disclosed that the National Institutes of Health had been improperly dumping pathologic and medical waste at the county transfer station, which is the last stop for garbage on the way to Laytonsville.
Residents on Tuesday demanded that the dump be closed, but last night William Jaffurs, president of the Fairhill Riggs Road Civic Association, conceded "I don't think they plan to close that landfill. I don't look at the closing of the landfill as a viable option."
The citizens got one other piece of bad news. Their group is $135,696 in debt because of legal and other expenses associated with the battle. Last night they began to plan to raffle a house to reduce the debt.