Oversteps and Compromise
While it’s still fresh in my mind, I might as well write about the items that were removed from a recent County Council agenda by Council President Bud Otis.
As most readers are aware, for our March 3rd County Council meeting I had requested that several items to be on the agenda for a vote in support of a resolution to be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan in support of his efforts to eliminate the Storm Water Management fee or the “Rain Tax,” and also the elimination of the automatic gas tax increases.
On the Saturday prior to the Tuesday meeting, I noticed that these two items which had been placed on the agenda on Thursday, had been removed.
I immediately an email to President Otis as well as all other council members asking why this had been done. I received no response.
I sent another email on Monday March 2nd again asking why these items had been removed. Once again, no response.
On the day of the meeting during Council member comments, I asked again why these items were removed from the agenda, and again I received no explanation.
I then stated I was going to make a motion seeking a vote on these issues. As soon as I stated this, Mr. Otis immediately called the motion out of order and refused to let me call for the vote. (If you want to watch this for yourself, you can click on this link (http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=4754) and watch from the 20 minute mark through the 29:00 minute mark. Once you watch this, if you think this is open and transparent government, I would say we may have to just disagree as to that definition.
The council president should have at least had the common courtesy to return my email with an explanation as to why he removed the items from the agenda. He should have had enough respect for the Council position to let me speak. He should have had enough respect for the constituents of District 5 to listen to their concerns. He essentially silenced your voices with his dictator-like demeanor in keeping another council member from voicing what is important to his constituents – tax increases!
By silencing this motion and keeping the items off the agenda, one can only assume that President Otis supports the automatic gas tax increase and the “Rain Tax.” Keep in mind he signed a pledge during his campaign last year that he would not increase taxes by any means. I would urge you to contact President Otis and voice your concerns at BOtis@frederickcountymd.gov.
On some other issues, I have made many references to what I believe are oversteps in her authority by County Executive Jan Gardner.
The first instance came on her third day in office when she removed a 14-year county employee with an unblemished record, relegating her to a menial position, decreasing her pay by $40,000, and thus violating every personnel rule in the book. This put the county in a position of facing a lawsuit, which it was. This legal action was settled in very short order.
While the local newspaper reported the reason for the lawsuit, it has not reported on the settlement. And county officials have made every effort to keep it “under the radar.”
This, my friends, is the “open and transparent government” we have in Frederick County today.
Last week the county executive held a press conference to go over new and improved county employee benefits. Things like added personal days, added holidays all with pay at the expense of the county’s taxpayers. She stated that employee morale is low and she wants to fix that.
I’m no human resources specialist, but I think she could start by not breaking every personnel policy in the code on her third day in office. Had she not done that to a 14-year exemplary employee, morale more than likely would not be an issue.
Ms. Gardner learned how to increase government well from her time spent as an aide to now retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski aide. You start by creating a crisis, then trying to fix that crisis by expanding government. This is not the way we should govern in Frederick County, and I will stand up and expose this every time it is tried by the current administration.
Now, you might be thinking, why can’t we all just get along? I agree, I wish I could bring you glorious news of a county that’s full of sunshine and happiness. There’s only one problem. Half the people think that’s a great place to live, the other half thinks that it’s a great place to pillage.
If the county executive would bring to the table ways to increase business investment in the county, ways to cut wasteful spending, and ways to actually help the citizens afford to live here, you wouldn’t hear a negative word from me. I would be leading the way to reach across the aisle and get it done.
The reality is that she, along with the majority of the county council have no idea as to what makes a business tick, how tax revenue is generated, or how the tide of good economic policy lifts all boats. Their easy way out is to put things in crisis mode and reach into someone else’s pocket to pay the tab of their poorly executed economic model.
Unfortunately in America today, giveaway programs to the non-producers from the producers is the norm. The old adage that when “you rob Peter to pay Paul” you won’t hear Paul complaining. It is alive and well.
I will continue to do what I said I would do during the campaign last year. I will fight for increased business friendly policies, elimination of onerous regulations, elimination of onerous taxation, and a smaller government model that does what it was intended to do - supply core functions such as police, fire, basic infrastructure and education.
I am well aware of the art of compromise. I have to do it every day in business I’ve been in for 30 years and a marriage I’ve been in for 28 years. Compromise is nothing new to me. Conservative compromise is when both sides find some common ground and both walk away with some of what they wanted.
Typically the liberal side walks away with more. Liberal compromise occurs when taxes are raised, fees are raised, more holidays are added, more personal days are added, and the bureaucracy is increased. Then the taxpayers are told to work harder to pay for it all. That’s not compromise, and I won’t be part of it, now or ever.
So, in light of all this, I would ask that you get involved, watch the meetings, and voice your opinions. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your kids or grandkids, because after all we are responsible for the opportunities we leave them, be it the opportunity to thrive, or the opportunity to pay down the massive debt we was incurred on our watch.
I know what I’m doing. You have to make your own decision.
Mr. Delauter represents Council District 5. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.