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October 22, 2014

Ramblings from an Inveterate Curmudgeonly Gadfly Part 2

John W. Ashbury

With the General Election less than two weeks away, it is natural that some questions about some candidates will arise creating even more questions. Here are a few examples.


It would seem that after David Gray’s Letter to the Editor in the October 19, 2014, Frederick News-Post, he has finally revealed his true colors.


It must be recalled that in 1982, Mr. Gray ran as a Democrat for county commissioner, while serving on the county’s Planning Commission. He lost. Then he ran as an independent in 1986 and lost again.


Then, apparently realizing that the county had turned decidedly conservative and understanding his penchant for telling whomever he was talking to what he thought they wanted to hear, he became a Republican and entered into a successful run for county commissioner. His only loss in all the elections he sought office after 1986 was this year when he was defeated in his bid for county executive.


But in his Letter to the Editor on the 19th, he “endorsed” only Democrats. Fourteen of them.


It must be that he is entering his second childhood (or maybe a slightly later period in his life) and reverted to his Democratic Party roots of 1982.


But a check of his voting records as a sitting county commissioner reveals that he never abandoned Democratic Party ideology – just his party registration.


* * * * * * * * *


There have been recent discussions about the overcrowding in some of our schools. State Sen. Ron Young and county executive candidate Jan Gardner recently held a press conference at Hillcrest Elementary to decry the way-over-capacity of that school. They mentioned others as well.


But the fault, dear readers, lies not in their rhetoric, but in their failure to point a finger at the real culprits here.


For many years the Frederick County Board of Education has failed miserably to address the problem – other than by moving portable classrooms around, or by making changes to enrollment districts when a new school opens.


However, when the renovations at Lincoln Elementary in downtown Frederick were completed at a cost exceeding $30 million, it opened for students at 74 percent capacity. Nearby Hillcrest Elementary, which has been over capacity since the first day it opened back in 1987, is currently more than 30 percent above capacity. (Orchard Grove Elementary is between these two school districts.) When Hillcrest opened, there were three portables at the back door.


So, why hasn’t the school board simply sent some of those Hillcrest students to Orchard Grove, and some Orchard Grove students to Lincoln? Simple!! It is afraid of the backlash from parents who don’t want their precious little ones to be upset because they will be separated from their school chums.


Seems no one understands that these precious little ones make friends far easier than do their parents – and they get over “upsets” in their lives far easier than do their parents.


So, we need to lay the blame for some of the overcrowding at the feet of the school board and the staff of Frederick County Public Schools, rather than railing about the funding issues. Redistricting, perhaps even county wide, would solve most of the overcrowding problems.


* * * * * * * * *


This inquiring mind wants to know what has happened to Mike Gastley, the former Frederick County budget officer and assistant county manager.


Hearing his radio ads in support of Jan Gardner’s campaign for Frederick County’s first executive makes one question Mike’s conservative credentials.


For many years his voice was among the few you could trust to tell you what was really happening in county government concerning fiscal matters. His was a conservative voice “crying in the wilderness” of liberal agendists.


Now, one has to wonder just why he is supporting Ms. Gardner’s 12-year liberal voting record, especially her votes for increased spending by the county government. During Ms. Gardner’s 12 years in office the county’s budget increased an average of more than six percent each year. The current Board of County Commissioners has increased the budget just over 2 percent each year.


So the question remains: Why does Mr. Gastley support Ms. Gardner?


The answer seems simple enough.


After Mr. Gastley retired from county government, he wanted to return. He was told quite specifically, according to several sources, that all with fine in county government as far as fiscal matters were concerned. Thus his services were not needed. At the time the new county manager had been the financial director for the county.


According to Commissioner Blaine Young, the decision of whether or not to “re-hire” Mr. Gastley was left entirely up to the new county manager.


So, should Mr. Gastley be rehired by the county government, he would still receive his retirement in addition to any new salary. This is called double dipping.


And the question foremost in the minds of many is why is Mr. Gastley supporting Ms. Gardner when he vociferously  complained about her spending priorities when she was a county commissioner.


So, this raises another question. What is the quid-pro-quo for Mr. Gastley should Ms. Gardner be elected county manager.


* * * * * * * * *


And this brings up another “quid-pro-quo” question for Ms. Gardner.


Should she be elected, will she hire a former county manager to a high level, high paying position in her administration?


There are several stories making the rounds these days that she has made certain promises concerning positions in county government over the next four years.


And this instigates yet another question: How many of these “stories” are based in fact rather than just speculation.


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