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June 23, 2005

Isn't It Amazing...

John W. Ashbury

Perusing local publications recently has revealed an astounding number of events and incidents that test the credibility of a thinking person.

For example, isn't it amazing ...that on March 9th of this year, the mayor of The City of Frederick offered a budget for the coming fiscal year which required the firing of 12 employees, the elimination of an additional 13 positions, and a pay raise for the aldermen which the alderman had rejected earlier in the year. Mayor Jennifer Dougherty cited the passage of a tax relief package by the aldermen in November as the reason for the reduced revenues which required the dismissals.

And then, isn't it amazing ...that just three months later, on June 9th, the mayor and Board of Aldermen adopted a budget for the coming fiscal year which does not require the firing of any of the 12 employees so designated in March, but also has enough money in the budget to add one and a half new positions. Astounding!

Isn't it amazing ..that the Frederick County Board of Education has delayed the replacement of the roof on Walkersville Middle School, which it says has been needed for 20 years, citing a lack of funding from the county commissioners in each of those 20 years as the culprit.

Isn't it amazing ... that while complaining it doesn't have the funds to replace the roof on Walkersville Middle School, it does have enough money to fund the initiation of a new junior varsity lacrosse program at county high schools. Perhaps a better purchase would have been umbrellas for the students at Walkersville Middle School to be distributed on rainy days and for use only indoors.

Isn't it amazing..that the mayor of The City of Frederick blames Alderman David Lenhart for the current situation which allows non-city residents to run for her office in this year's election, when in actual fact Alderman Lenhart and his compatriots Joe Baldi and Bill Hall approved a charter amendments which would have required a one-year residency requirement (down for the previous three-year prerequisite), a measure she chose to veto.

Isn't it amazing... that in actual fact it was a federal judge who struck down Frederick's three-year residency requirement as unconstitutional, which left the city with no requirement, and thus gave non-city residents the opportunity to seek the office. And the suit in which the judge ruled was filed by former Mayor Ronald Young.

Isn't it amazing...that, after the federal judge's ruling, the mayor of The City of Frederick rescinded her veto of the residency charter amendment, despite the fact that the charter has no provision for the revocation of a veto. And.

Isn't it amazing ... that despite the fact that she was told by the acting city attorney she did not have the power or right to rescind any veto, she did it anyway.

Isn't it amazing..that when the Republican governor of Maryland discharges 280 of more than 7,100 at-will employees on the state payroll, legislative Democrats instigate a probe of the "hiring and firing" practices of the administration.

Isn't it amazing..that there was no probe of the hiring and firing practices of the previous administration when then Democrat Gov. Parris Glendening fired 309 at-will employees from the Transportation Department in a single year.

Isn't it amazing..that former governor and current comptroller of Maryland, William Donald Schaefer, a staunch Democrat, says that the entire "probe" is a political ploy designed to embarrass the governor.

Isn't it amazing...that Del. Adrienne A. Jones, of Baltimore County, co-chairman of the special committee investigating the governor's practices, said charges of nepotism are a "smoke screen;" that the conduct of the previous administration is not an issue, this, despite the fact that two of the Democrat Attorney General of Maryland's children, and two children of Senate President Mike Miller were given state jobs by the Glendening administration.

Isn't it amazing ...that Delegate Jones actually believes the probe is not a witch hunt, saying: "My method of operation is not to embarrass. My method of operation is to deal with facts. There's no politics in dealing with facts." Huh?

Isn't it amazing..that the Frederick Board of County Commissioners which has great difficulty telling anyone who wants a hand-out "NO," is now considering giving tax relief to all homeowners in the county in Fiscal Year 2007, which begins just two months before the primary election for their jobs next year.

Isn't it amazing..that when faced with a budget surplus exceeding $26 million in next year's projected revenues, our county commissioners could only find it in their hearts to provide $3 million in tax relief for the county oppressed, tax-paying homeowners - and at only $100 each. And this came after they kept the tax rate at $1 per hundred of assessed value which generated a nearly $20 million increase in revenues above what they received this fiscal year.

Isn't it amazing...the county's budget increased 91 percent in the decade from 1994 to 2004, but the county's population increased only a little more than 26 percent and the school populations went up just a little more than 24 percent. (Thanks to Alan Imhoff for this one.)

And finally, isn't it amazing...that with a little more time, this column could go on for the rest of the week and still there would be more things happening to amaze - and perhaps, stun - one and all.

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