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October 22, 2009

Considering a Painful Wish List

Joan Marie Aquilino

The public hearings on the 2010 legislative package began Tuesday evening with the local items. This evening the county commissioners will entertain items more state and federally directed.


No drama to this point. Commissioner John L. “Lennie” Thompson stayed in his seat; the speakers were calm. Speakers were overwhelmingly lobbyists against the obvious.


Plastic bag, bottles (returned and/or taxed) bills were reruns from last year. Same speakers, same words, different year.


One gentleman, a small business owner, spoke against these bills. It's the general sentiment that so many business people have and that is: “I'm down, I’m holding on by a thread. Do you really need to continue piling it on.”


Some of the loudest screams we hear from the Board of County Commissioners pertain to mandates from the state and federal governments with no funding. Well, hello government! That is what you are doing to the small business owner every time you come up with one of these ideas of yours.


At this stage of the game, I see no reason in pushing any of these items through. We have single stream recycling already. Wasn’t single stream put in place to make it easier? So you'd go back to a more difficult process of separating, seems counter productive to me. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use this energy to make it easier for businesses to recycle?


Pay-as-you-throw and mandated recycling were both on the table and got very little, if any, discussion. Both proposals are a waste of time. Mandated recycling is – once again – just another level of government oversight. How will it be enforced? These regulation do nothing more than motivate people to work around them. Now that truly is a waste.


The liquor board wants to raise fees across the board, but amounts were not listed.


Sheriff Chuck Jenkins is requesting a raise in fees for inmates and they were listed. Still a bargain; and I personally say, if you can’t pay the fees don’t do the crime. The general public should not be paying to house, educate, feed, cloth, and defend prisoners.


The teachers union spoke out against open negotiating for union contracts. I can't predict the future, but I'm guessing this one won't move past the commissioners.


A teacher and the teachers’ union president spoke against the legislation to get student counts showing proof of legal status. Maybe I'm the blind one, but it seems fairly simple to me. When they register they must show a birth certificate, passport or some acceptable documentation.


No one will be denied an education (it’s against the law), but the federal government needs to be shown the actual numbers and how their ineffectiveness in closing our borders is affecting us.


At a cost of over $12,000 plus per child in Frederick County, one thousand (1,000) undocumented children in the system would cost $12 million. I'm feeling fairly confident those numbers might reach into the millions, and the louder the Frederick County Board of Education, the unions, the teachers, etc., yell, the more it makes me wonder what more they are hiding.


How many parents still fill out emergency information cards in triplicate? Does anyone look at those cards and get information from them for other mandates?


Also, if a child or parent doesn’t enter the race of the child on a registration card, who does it once it’s returned to the school system? A teacher, a secretary, a volunteer? So, if the question was, “Do you have proof of legal residency in United States,” and it’s not checked off, would those same people check it off? It’s okay to ask race but not legal status? Don’t piddle down my leg and tell me it’s raining.


Last, but not least, are the street intersection charity collections. I'm really torn on this because the fire departments make a very compelling argument in favor. I never had an issue with the boot collections. I'm not okay with other types of collection I've encountered on street corners. They are annoying, scary and huge safety issues. According to testimony Tuesday night they have a statewide ban on this type of collection, but numerous counties are putting in a permitting process to enable certain charities to continue to collect in this manner.


My reality in driving through Montgomery County, and in particular these intersections; Rte. 355 and Shady Grove Road in Gaithersburg/Rockville area, Rt. 27 in downtown Damascus in front of fire station, and lastly the intersection of Rte. 29 and 198 in Burtonsville, is daunting These encounters were all during this past year/summer. I had no issues with the firemen in Damascus because they were familiar, friendly and smack dab in front of the station house and didn't approach anyone who didn't already have the window down and money ready.


Others give me a feeling of dread and silent prayers that the light will stay green and I can make it through without being accosted or hitting anyone. I instinctively lock the doors, roll up the windows, and never make eye contact. Call me politically incorrect all you want, but I hate coming across this type of situation. And when it becomes an everyday ordeal, I'd drive a mile or two out of my way just to avoid a known intersection of beggars. I had no confidence the money went anywhere other than the collectors’ pocket. Right or not, I felt threatened and had to do double duty keeping a vigilant eye open for them dodging in and out between cars during light changes.


If you want a say, attend the public hearings or email your commissioners and state delegation member now. Don’t want until later.


...’til next time . . .



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