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December 16, 2010

The 12 Topics of December

Joan Marie Aquilino

As the end of the year approaches decisions are being made which portend an exciting year ahead. Here are some of the issues that struck my fancy over the past few weeks.


1. TERC Math: It was on its way out already and it never got the blessings from the public when the previous Frederick County Board of Education implemented it. So, now that it has officially been removed from life support, what is the issue? It was approved by the school board as part of a consent agenda – no public input. There was never a process when it came to TERC math.


2. Signage on Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) vehicles: once again an ongoing source of distain by the public for perceived arrogance by the Board of Education. Superintendent Linda Burgee drives a FCPS vehicle and – if there are security issues – then use one of the unmarked security vehicles or even a driver. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins might even have an idea or 12.


3. Board of Education Central Office Hiring Freeze: What sort of public notification and input is needed? About damn time is all I can say on this one.


4. Charter School Revisit: What is the possible problem or objection? It is on the agenda again and anyone who wants to provide input is free to do so.


5. Ethics Regulations: For County Commissioner C. Paul Smith to bring that up was untimely and, honestly, not the smartest of moves. A rewrite, a modification, a consideration but repeal ….. Please. However, having said that, he did it in an open format and it will be aired.


6. Hiring of Assistant County Manager: We are all voicing our concerns and explanations are being offered now. We have to trust that our votes mattered and this will be a cost-saving expenditure as promised. Bottom line, they were completely within their rights to fill that position and any other they see fit to fill. After all, think about all the departments created and hires that happened in the last four to eight years. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but time will tell. Stay tuned and pay attention.


7. Reduction of Local Government: Exactly what the majority voted to do when they went to the polls on November 2. And, if you voted against it, you didn’t win this time, so adjust like many did the prior four years.


8. Argue with the Commissioners’ Decisions: Go right ahead and argue with this Board of County Commissioners. They thrive on debate. Be thankful all sides can have a voice and actually be heard this go ’round. It doesn’t mean we’ll get our way, but you could affect changes if you present both the perceived problem and the possible solution. No more whining and sour grapes. Give options for solutions.


9. To Renovate or Not. I predict this newly comprised Board of Education will do what we taxpayers can afford. Another choice is use the new Central Office building to house the smaller, badly-in-need-of-repair schools. Perfect downtown location! High schools might need to do a little bussing, or sharing of space. Short term: adjust, cooperate, negotiate, and think outside the box for long-term fixes. Long term: Better facilities for everyone. How students accept or adjust to these ideas depends on how well the parents and administrators behave.


10. To Cork or Not to Cork is the question. If the Frederick County Liquor Board, the delegation to the General Assembly, and the county commissioners want to move forward in a cooperative manner, this is a very good start. Liquor laws/regulations are outdated. Corkage needs to be allowed as well as direct ship. Figure it out.


11. Liquor License Fees: As I said, these are outdated and need adjusting, not necessarily increased across the board. A sliding scale is more in line and it shouldn’t matter if you can serve 10 or 10 hundred. But, if you serve 10, you shouldn’t be paying the same as a venue that serves 10 hundred. Wake up and seek logical, realistic, business-minded adjustments that won’t put a business owner out of business, nor impede opening a business. Start with revising the mandates for a food menu and what must be served and when, hours of operation, and the stupidest of all, how many seats to qualify for a license (50 right now).


12. Jail Fees: If you can’t afford to do the time, then don’t commit the crime. We need to stop supporting criminal poor behavior and stupid choices. When criminals can afford a cell phone, cigarettes and drugs, they sure as heck can afford to pay for services supplied to them while in jail. The so-called indigent find money for what they ‘want.’ They can also find money to pay their way, or learn to make better choices. Stop being a burden on society financially as well as socially. Bleeding hearts need not start with the ‘hand they’ve been dealt’ rhetoric. Fold!


There are so many more issues but this is more than enough nine days before Christmas.


My Christmas wish for everyone is to breathe, just take a moment and breathe. Stay ever vigilant and give the newly elected leaders a bit of rope, hopefully they won’t hang themselves with it. Instead of whining, just say what’s on your mind and give options for solutions at the same time.


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday and a Splendid New Year, or whatever it might be that you are celebrating. Be safe, tell someone special you love them, and find something good in everyday, not just now, but all year long.


. . . . .’til next time . . .


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