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August 15, 2016

Non-Compos Mentis and $49,736.87

Harry M. Covert

There are so many needy causes to support in Frederick County, it is impossible to list them all here.


Donors up and down the streets and rural lanes are asked for this and that. Just name the cause, locals participate and do so gladly with good hearts.


With all the needs in the county and every community, taxpayers took an incredible hit. Since when should Frederick countians be forced to contribute to the non-compos mentis of Baltimore political leadership?


To be blunt, the Frederick County executive whose name I'm loathe to spell out here, returned $49,736.87 to Baltimore’s mayor. These dollars and cents were for payment of sheriff's office three-shift security services during the riots last year. Remember, they were the talk of the country.


Frederick City's finest was paid $40,000 for their professional participation.


Both the sheriff's office and police staffs earned every penny doing their duty to help neighbors. Why in the world would the county reject payment of taxpayers' money? The county’s action is irresponsible at best and plainly absurd. Baltimore is loaded, cash rich and so is the state.


Citizens always hear how nearly destitute local public treasuries may be.


Last Saturday the state’s mandated seven-day sales tax holiday began benefitting moms’ and dads’ back to school purchases. Downtown businesses make a little extra, too. This is good.


The tax people report the state will lose $6.4 million in revenue during this bonus time. Please, no boo-hooing. The casinos are doing exceedingly well.


Baltimore calls its rioting, burning and destruction civil unrest. Whatever the name, it was out of control and Baltimore dipped into its "rainy day" fund for $20 million to help pay for the out-of-control events. They found $1.8 million to pay 25 surrounding police agencies that jumped in to assist Charm City cops who had to stand down on mayoral authority and watch the criminal actions.


Frederick Sheriff Chuck Jenkins is "livid" at the county executive returning taxpayer cash. He and everybody else should be.


I asked Sheriff Jenkins what he could have done with the almost 50 grand:


"It's not a matter of what I could have spent it on, it’s Frederick County taxpayers' dollars. I sent deputies down because it was the right decision at the time, not thinking about any reimbursement. That figure was actual cost.


"Giving Baltimore this money back is the equivalent of rewarding very poor and incompetent leadership by the Baltimore officials. I blame the burning and looting on the incompetence of the Democratic mayor and the overzealous state’s attorney. Both should be removed from office for their comments and actions.


“Understand, my office takes on many law enforcement and security related obligations that there is no reimbursement for our resources. They include Secret Service assistance, remember the G8 Summit in 2012? VIP protection assignments for congressman and other elected officials, and other events that require manpower.


"Going forward, I've entered a Mutual Aid Agreement with Baltimore and, if we deploy in the future, there will be no reimbursement.


"This really sets a terrible precedent."


Councilman Kirby Delauter said he and other elected colleagues did not receive prior notice to the Baltimore refund.


“I think it's the dumbest thing ever. We sent deputies to assist in a situation that Baltimore couldn't handle on their own. That is our money. I'm going to bring it up as to why it was refunded, and why the council was not notified of the refund as well."


If Baltimore is so hard-pressed, nothing like the citizens and businesses in Ellicott City, why did the city pay $6.4 million to the late Freddie Gray family before the police officers were exonerated by a circuit judge?


Questions will become louder as to why the state's attorney is not charged with abusing her elected office. Criminal cases should never arise from political issues. Why the city’s payoff to the family?


Let's point out, too, that FEMA, the federal emergency management agency, denied the governor's request for $20 million in city disaster funds.


Poor little Baltimore last week received a $10 million federal grant for roads improvements and construction in the rioting neighborhoods.


If Frederick County's administration is so caring about its people, how about them zeroing in on obvious needs already existing.


Talk of any transparency is tittle-tattle. It's not a political issue...Really now? Think about how the money could be used by local organizations working with special needs children and adults, food for needy families and homeless residents, military veterans, who need physical and mental health assistance or clothing and feed anybody who is hungry.


That $49,736.87 for the county and the city's $40,000 may not sound like much when the exchequers are calculating, but this cash amount is a big deal for locals.


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