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Cassell's college degree questioned : UMd has no record of Queen Anne's commissioner
By HEATHER RAWLYK Staff Writer

Attacking his opponent for a lack of character was something incumbent Benjamin F. Cassell Jr., R-Stevensville, did often before the Queen Anne's County Board of Commissioners primaries.

Now, less than a week before the general election, Mr. Cassell's character has come into question.

When asked about his educational background last month, Mr. Cassell said he earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Maryland. His 2002 Queen Anne's County Commissioner candidate questionnaire also makes that claim.

But employees of the records and registration offices at the University of Maryland College Park, where Mr. Cassell said he graduated in 1968, said there's no indication that he was ever a student there.

Reached for comment at his Stevensville home yesterday morning, Mr. Cassell said he transferred to the College Park campus from the University of Baltimore during his freshman year. He's trying to work out the problem with university officials, he said.

Mr. Cassell couldn't show a reporter his diploma yesterday morning.

"I've moved five or six times, I'm not a paper type of guy," he said. "I've had boxes missing for years."

A staff member in the university's alumni office said they had no record of Mr. Cassell in their system, but said it's possible for someone to graduate from the school and not be listed in alumni files.

Questions also have arisen concerning a claim Mr. Cassell made in the 2002 Queen Anne's County candidate questionnaire, in which he said he was an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin's School of Business. A bio of Mr. Cassell found on the Web site of Crown Logistics says he has been a lecturer at the university's school of business - not an associate professor.

Staff members at the school searched their electronic appointment system and found no record of Mr. Cassell ever being employed at the University of Wisconsin. The search also indicated that he has never been on the university's payroll.

Brian Mattmiller of UW-Madison Communications said there's a small chance that there could be a misplaced record, but the primary system for tracking former employees and payroll showed no connection between Mr. Cassell and the school.

He said even if Mr. Cassell was not an associate professor, and just a lecturer, he would still be on the payroll. However, if Mr. Cassell was a guest lecturer, he wouldn't necessarily have been paid or logged into the system.

"The way we use the term 'guest lecturer' is not a formal title at the university," Mr. Mattmiller said. "That term is usually used to describe someone invited by a particular teacher, usually for one or a few class periods."

Either way, he said, there isn't a parallel between being a guest lecturer and an associate professor.

"Those are totally different things," he said, adding that it would be unlikely that Mr. Cassell could work as an associate professor at the university without a Ph.D.

Mr. Cassell said Wednesday that he was "knee deep" in his campaign and didn't have time to get into the discrepancies.

"I'm straightening it all out," he said. "I'll have it all straightened out by Tuesday."

But on Tuesday, voters will have to decide whether they trust Mr. Cassell enough to put him in office for another four years. His opponent, Democrat Carol Fordonski, said there are some serious concerns about the accuracy of his claims.

"From what I understand, he did not accurately present his credentials, and you have to ask, is this the kind of man you want?" she said.

Commissioner Mike Koval, who lost to Mr. Cassell in the primary election, said he doesn't trust the man he lost to - so much so that he endorsed Mrs. Fordonski, a Democratic candidate, even though he's a Republican.

"It's kind of interesting to hear this," Mr. Koval said of the claims against his former opponent.

He said Mr. Cassell's possible dishonesty sets a poor example for the county's after-school program, Character Counts.

"I say it isn't just Character Counts. It should be Good Character Counts," Mr. Koval said. "He needs to get some good character."

What most alarmed Mr. Koval about the allegations is that biographies for each county commissioner were included in paperwork for a $20 million bond for a new middle school on Route 8.

He said he worries that the loan will be compromised if it turns out that Mr. Cassell provided false information.

"He may have put the county in a very precarious position right now," Mr. Koval said.

No matter what, he said, Mr. Cassell has a lot of explaining to do.

"I think Commissioner Cassell is going to have to disclose a whole lot of stuff," he said. " He'd better come up with a diploma. He should have been faxing it out yesterday."

Staff writer Joshua Stewart contributed to this story.

link to story

Published November 03, 2006, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Copyright © 2006 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.


KOVAL REPLIES TO 
CASSELL SUPPORTERS' PAC'S  "FACTS"

KIDL WEB GUY CALLS IT "MISLEADING INFORMATION",
And asks if You will "JUST SAY NO" to 
CASSELL and his developer/ realtor "Friends"? 

When you see the misleading negative attack ads and mailings in these last days before the Primary don't forget, there is always more to the story. . . .  Mike has always held that certain Executive (Closed to the Public) Sessions are improperly held or unnecessary, and he refuses to attend these meetings.  He has missed only 1 regular meeting.  Mike's voting record is being attacked in a "Friends of QAC" ad .  There are legitimate reasons for every "no" vote.  For example Mike has always held that the Four Seasons process and maps were flawed and the courts are now agreeing as you'll read below in the release from Citizens Alliance.

Here are some of the votes attacked and Mike's reasons for his votes.  If you have questions on any of his votes email  mkoval@qac.org  or call him.  We'll hit some of the major votes attacked here:

  • A “no” vote on the Church Hill Pavilion was because Mike wanted indoor plumbing (instead of porta-potties) for the park, before a Pavilion.  Bathrooms were built at Mowbray Park, and are in the works now at Church Hill because of Mike's insistence;
  • A "no" vote on water for senior housing in Sudlersville was because at that time water approval was tied in with a proposed adjoining development of several hundred housing units; 
  • A "no" vote on the "plan to save the Chesapeake Bay" was a vote by Mike and Gene Ransom against levying the $2.50/month "flush fee" (TAX); 
  • The vote on the Sudlersville Middle School was "no" to a STUDY to study a study . . . Ransom and Mike voted to keep RENOVATIONS in the budget, not to have another study;
  • Mike voted no to post-Isabel repairs to the EMS building because the building is IN A FLOODPLAIN and was illegally built on deed-restricted property (watemans' marina), he saw no reason to throw more money into this building when it made more sense to build elsewhere;
  • A “no” vote on the proposed NEW EMS "garage" was a vote against a $600,000 building - 50% over budget and overpriced in the first place --- after Mike’s suggestion to “build a Morton Building” the price is now down to $100,000, a savings of 1/2 million TAXPAYER dollars, and he thinks the price could even be lower; 
  • Vote "against down zoning Critical Area Land from Intense to Resource Conservation" was for about 2 acres in Gibson's Grant on the same inaccurate map as Four Seasons, and you don't amend a map you know is wrong; 
  • Any "no" votes on vehicle purchases were because NEW vehicles were not necessary, in most cases either sufficient #'s of vehicles were already available, repairs could be made or the vehicles in question were already out of service anyway.  Mike insisted we do a "count" of county-owned vehicles, and it turns out Mike was correct, that we own nearly 50% MORE vehicles than we thought we had;
  • Mike abstained from voting on protective vests for Detention Center guards because he felt proper procedure wasn't being followed, it was an out-of- budget item and a "no bid" contract;
  • A vote to grant sewer allocation for a 13 unit townhouse project on Thompson Creek Rd. was a UNANIMOUS agreement to re-capture sewer allocation APPROVED IN 1984 to a new builder who wanted to complete the project which already had all its approvals!
  • Mike explained his vote on Ellendale in November 2003 in a letter to KIDL, here is a link to that letter: http://www.savekentisland.org/letters95.html 
As you can see, the “Friends of QAC” didn’t tell the whole story!  Please keep this in mind while you go to the polls.  And remember, if you have any questions about Mike’s voting record ASK HIM.

NOTE FROM KIDL WEB GUY!  Please read the reply from Cassell regarding the Ellendale vote immediately following Koval's.  What Cassell says... and then what he does, like night and day.  Is this the kind of man we want in Centreville for four more years?  I say no thank you Mr. Cassell, I say let the voters dismiss you with gratitude...

Read more about who is behind the  "Friends of QAC" PAC 


 We received a copy of the following release to KIDL from the Citizens Alliance to Save Our County this morning. 

SPECIAL TO THE KENT ISLAND DEFENSE LEAGUE 

The Court of Special Appeals has denied KHovnanian’s motion to vacate Judge Sause’s injunction against the Four Seasons Project. 

In a one-page Order entered on September 5, 2006, the Court summarily rebuffed a 101-page filing by KHov’s lawyers seeking to overturn Judge Sause’s injunction. 

The Judge had stopped all work on the project, pending resolution of appeals from his judgment that accurate Critical Area rezoning maps for the project had never been produced and that therefore no “Growth Allocation” for the project had ever been completed.

Because of the September 5 order, the appeals will now go forward with the Judge’s injunction remaining in effect. 

Due to the courageous efforts of citizen plaintiffs, backed by the full resources of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, the Four Seasons project may well be ultimately stopped by the courts.

More immediately, the next County Commissioners will now have a clear opportunity officially to reconsider this illegitimate project (approved in 2002 by lame-duck Commissioners after they had been voted out of office in large part because of their support for Four Seasons). 

The three-person majority of the current Commissioners, Cassell-Cupani-Smith, have repeatedly pushed the project forward, against the determined but out-voted opposition of Commissioners Mike Koval and Gene Ransom.

The Primary Election on September 12 gives every Kent Island voter the chance to get a fresh reconsideration of Four Seasons -- by getting rid of its relentless Commissioner champions:  Cassell, Cupani, Smith.

I urge KIDL, as the original opponents of this grotesque project, to communicate to your members what is at stake on September 12.

Jim Campbell, Treasurer, Citizens Alliance to Save Our County PAC 


Koval Responds To " Friends of QAC" ad

Citizens Alliance to Save Our County PAC Candidate Endorsements


sveinnstorm.com   |    SentinelWhispers.com

 bcassell@qac.orggransom@qac.org  | mkoval@qac.org
jcupani@qac.org  |  rsmith@qac.org


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