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June 13, 2002

The Job Nobody Seems To Want

Blaine R. Young

With the filing dead line of July 1 fast approaching, there are very few candidates who have filed for county commissioner. Why? What is the problem? Are people so happy with the current leadership that they see no need to run?

Wait a minute! Commissioner Terre Rhoderick and Rick Weldon are not running for re-election. So there are two open seats. Sounds like opportunity? What''s everyone problem? I mean you get all this power, you work full time, and you even get $30,000 plus benefits.

Maybe that''s the problem. Elected micro-managers have made it a full-time job and the pay has been keep so low that working people can''t even serve in there own government unless they have a special set of circumstances that would allow them the opportunity.

The only other way is to risk it all(give up your job) for the sake of serving your community. Was it the intent of the people for the position to become a full time job? I do not think so. It''s the reason the delegation rejected a pay raise for the commissioners earlier this year.

So, with pay low and hours long, it has severely limited the number of people who can run for the position.

Now, I do not support raising the pay. That''s right, I can argue that they are over paid based on performance. Excluded from this in my opinion are Commissioners Rhoderick and Weldon.

Ilona Hogan, one of the best commissioners in a long time, chased out because her colleagues would not work with her and her work schedule. She wasn''t asking to move mountains, she just needed a little cooperation because she wanted to work another job as well as that of commissioner.

Wow!!! She wanted to work and not just depend on taxpayers for money. Well, unfortunately they did not work with her and opportunity knocked on her door and we lost a great commissioner.

Wait a minute! She walked away from the power, the money and the glory? Sounds like she wasn''t doing it for those reason. She liked serving the community.

So, how can we correct the problem? Well, they can try to increase the pay again or they can return it to a part-time job so working people can serve their government again.

How? Why do we have a county manager if he isn''t allowed to manage? The salary for this position is around $95,000. If he can''t do the job, then find someone that can. This position is held by Ron Hart and he can do the job if he were allowed to do so. But, he will be retiring soon and County Comptroller Doug Browning will get a shot at taking over this position. Why not let him do the job and not micro-manager every move?

The county has many directors all making good money? So why are there so many hours involved in being a county commissioner? If you have a good structure in place and, once you give them direction, why not let them do their jobs. If they can''t, you find someone who can.

The answer is one simple word - POWER. For most micro-managers love the power and want to be in on every decision and this is the best job they have ever had. Returning the position to a true part-time job is probably going to be impossible.

Maybe the only way to make it possible for working people to have a opportunity to serve their government is considering going to charter government with a county executive and a truly part-time county council.

This idea was voted down by a landslide once before. Maybe we should tweak the proposed charter from that election. The executive would be appointed by the council as county manager and he/she would run the county. The council would set and pass the budget and make all laws.

This operation would be much like a part time mayor and board. An example is Rockville. This takes a lot of the politics out of the process.

Is this the answer? I don''t know, but with the deadline fast approaching to file for county commissioner and there not being enough candidates to have a primary in either party it has to make you wonder what''s wrong.

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