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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

October 8, 2018

"D" is for Disaster Part 1

Jason Miller

Functional reading is a fundamental approach to properly researching and defining a position on any public policy. Candidates and voters should be reading up on subjects as the November election approaches.


Sadly, some candidates for Frederick County Council haven't read up on the epic national history pertaining to the language in County Charter Amendment "Question D." If they had, they would be vocal opponents.


Frederick County is on the verge of being shackled to a binding Charter Amendment (Question D) that mandates binding arbitration with the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) local #3666. Such is the Montgomery County solution to a Frederick County problem.


The Frederick County Career Firefighters Union (IAFF local #3666) gathered over 20,000 signatures to place their "Question D" on the ballot. When the dust settled over 13,000 signatures were validated and to the ballot it went.


The fiscally irresponsible nature of this amendment should not be taken lightly by local taxpayers. If such an amendment passes, county residents should drop to their knees and pray for the local economy.


There are two main problems with binding arbitration that have sent many municipalities into many a fiscal grave.


Problem #1 – Binding arbitration often forces officials elected by the people to cede control of their budget to an unelected administrator. Sometimes the results can be disastrous. This is because unelected "neutral" arbitrators will have the final say when government employee contract negotiations break down. Neutral arbitrators have no loyalty to county residents and business owners. If they did, they would not be considered neutral.


Problem #2 – In many cases, this union focused strategy of legal maneuvering for benefits has seen big compensation awards to public employee unions that municipalities and county's across America couldn't afford.


Google "Detroit Insolvency" for a good read. You may want to read about Scranton, Pennsylvania, too. Scranton was forced into a state-run program to aid distressed cities.


While you are searching, look up Stockton and Vallejo California, both of which went bankrupt largely in part to binding arbitration, too. Those are good reads, too, when understanding the travesty of binding arbitration.


After the heady and carefree days of self-indulge spending of property taxes during the housing boom, Vallejo, California, removed the binding arbitration language from its city charter when 81 cents on the tax dollar started going to its public sector unions. It was the only way Vallejo could proceed to bankruptcy in the midst of the great recession without being forced into litigation. Professional problem solvers read history to learn from past mistakes.


Many Frederick County Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters have united against this amendment. Not because they're against firefighters, as some would have you believe, but rather because "Question D" is a bad idea. It will ultimately result in very bad deals for the local taxpayers. All taxpayers should read between the lines.


History shows that "Question D" leads to total disaster under the right conditions. Voters should all read between the lines before casting such a vital vote.


(Editor’s Note. Tomorrow Mr. Miller continues his argument against “Question D.”)

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