The Intelligence of Blaine Young
Frederick County Commission President Blaine Young has been a hot topic lately, capturing what seems to be an unceasing flow of headlines in both The Gazette and The Frederick News Post. In the 54 days since taking the oath of office, Mr. Young along with fellow board members are making a serious dent in fulfilling campaign promises.
So much so that the editors at the News Post recently called "an ambitious agenda for someone [Young] pledging to serve a single four-year term."
Other than a bumpy start with an unsuccessful proposal by Commissioner C. Paul Smith to repeal the 2007 amendment to the state ethics law, Mr. Young has kept his board laser focused on changing county government and its budgetary burdens without increasing taxes. More so than the objectives of the board, it's the style and the person that has opened some eyes to Mr. Young.
Just consider the headlines from the last couple of weeks:
1. Blaine Young delivers new management style – Patti Borda, News Post, January 12;
2. Young's presidency takes Frederick County government by storm - Sherry Greenfield, Gazette, January 12;
3. One and Done - Editors, News Post, January 17; and
4. Frederick County, town leaders work out compromises – Katherine Heerbrandt, Gazette, January 21.
Ten months ago in one of the first posts of the MacRo Report Blog, I asked the question "… please tell me why it always seems to be about Blaine Young?" At that time, Mr. Young was the newly appointed replacement for the vacancy left by former commissioner Charles Jenkins, who was appointed to fill a state delegate vacancy.
The presence of the well known outspoken conservative talk radio host on the board brought on a new kind of tension for then Commissioner President Jan Gardner and her board. Therefore, I chose to defer the reply to my own question to see how others defined him.
Well, now more so than ever, it seems that it is all about Blaine again. While I have known his "other side" for a number of years – that of the family man and businessman – it was almost humorous to read the News Post editors express that "... we were surprised by the presentation of the man in front of us. This was not the strident, mouthy, word-butchering radio personality we were familiar with. Instead, we heard a thoughtful and intelligent recounting of problems Frederick County government is facing..."
This statement may very well have sent tingles up the spine of former Commissioners Gardner and Kai Hagen, but the fact is that Mr. Young, Kirby Delauter, Mr. Smith and Billy Shreve are approaching their new jobs in an intelligent manner, by running county government as it was originally designed. They bring back something that has not been seen for decades: a group of full-time, successful, independent business people who consider their elected offices as part-time positions.
In her article Patti Borda states that Mr. Young "brings a new management style to his office: He gets consensus from other commissioners and sets County Manager Barry Stanton loose to implement the board's wishes."
This, of course, is nothing new; but after years of being dysfunctionally micromanaged, many members of staff in county government are very excited about the benefits and efficiencies that this traditional administrative style will bring over that of committee rule.
Ms. Gardner is quoted by Sherry Greenfield as stating that she does not believe that the commissioner form of government provides for county staff to make decisions: "... a commissioner form of government is set up to run like a committee."
One hundred years ago, American writer, capitalist and philosopher Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) defined a committee as "a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour."
By my calculations, if Mr. Hubbard was correct, the one term "and done" Blaine Young with his delegation style of management should be able to accomplish in 6.9 months what may have taken four years under previous boards! If the results of the recent county/town meeting that Ms. Heerbrandt writes about is an example, maybe we ain't seen nothin’ yet!
That may very well be too ambitious to assume; but, for sure, Frederick County citizens will have an opportunity to see firsthand how this "new" management style will set the framework for a much more efficiently run county government. One that will, in and of itself, save taxpayers money and yield faster results of county goals – all by a bunch of part-time public servants.
Now that is intelligent!
Rocky Mackintosh is president, MacRo, Ltd., a land and commercial real estate firm based in Frederick, MD. He also writes for MacRo Report Blog. Rocky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org