One Person in Charge?
(7/1) No doubt many of you have been reading about how Jack Johnson, former Prince Georges County Executive, recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges. This isnít the first time County Executives in Maryland have been caught receiving kickbacks from developers. Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County also have a history of political corruption at the County
Anyone remember Joseph Alton? Dale Anderson? Even Spiro Agnew was accused of taking bribes from milk producers while he was County Executive in Baltimore. Shelia Dixonís corruption started in her days as Baltimore City Council President, a position analogous to a County Executive. All of these are examples of how a concentration of power often leads to corruption.
Leadership is at its core all about power and influence. Leaders use their power to get things done. As far as the nexus with corruption, it is a lot easier to buy influence with an individual under the cloak of secrecy than it is to buy multiple people to secure a majority vote on a council. That is why political scandals and corruption are most often associated with executive positions.
Yes, charter government would bring more autonomy to Frederick County governance and has distinct advantages. But, it should be done with a strong council and a weak executive, not Blaine Youngís "one person in charge" vision of a strong County Executive. That is why 2915 people of all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, stay at home moms, plumbers, carpenters,
teachers, bartenders, chefs, farmers, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, a cross section of Frederick County residents, recently took the time out of their busy lives to sign a petition saying, unequivocally, that if a group of people are going to re-write the constitution for our county, it should be an elected group and not a group hand picked by individuals who think they know what is
best for us. Charter Writing Board petitioners are a diverse, grass roots group. To cast the Charter Writing Board petitioners as a cohesive anti-charter government group or a group run by a few individuals, as Blaine Young recently did, is simply not based in fact.
Unfortunately, of the 2915 signatures collected, Frederick County Board of Elections chose to play "Gotcha" and throw out 1174 for technicalities. Imagine that you go to vote for the president of the United States and your vote is disqualified because your name wasnít printed exactly as it appears on your voter ID card. You know, that card the government issues
that you put in a drawer somewhere because your wallet is full and no one ever asks for it, even at the polls on Election Day. Yes, that card. Do you know how your name is printed on there with out looking at it?
Here is a sample of how my name appears on the many ID cards that I hold: William Joseph Morrow, William J Morrow, Will J Morrow, Wm. J. Morrow, William Morrow, Will Morrow, Bill Morrow. Now imagine if someone asked you to print your name on a petition (while youíre walking your dog in Baker Park without your voter identification card) which one would you give? My
favorite "Gotcha" technicality is the one that threw out signatures because the form did not properly cite the Maryland law that authorized the petition in the first place. Iím sure seeing "Article XI-A, Section 1A" on the bottom of the form in fine print would have influenced my decision to sign or not.
Onerous rules to eliminate votes or invalidate signatures are not new in politics. And, unfortunately, itís a practice that is not just limited to third world and Eastern Bloc countries. Making the rules overly complicated and too stringent makes them unachievable. Politicians know that. The Frederick County Board of Elections did a disservice to 2892 tax paying
residents of Frederick County by throwing out their signatures for trivial reasons. That is not right, our signatures and voices matter. We have no recourse but to take this issue to the Courts. Apparently, our signatures are good enough for mortgage companies, banks and other institutions, but voting, thatís a different matter according to Frederick County Board of Elections.
A more sincere leader would acknowledge the significant discourse that exists in the community regarding the Charter Writing Board and address those concerns. Instead, Blaine Young dismisses those concerns citing the cost of a special election. But Iím not buying that. He just gave away much larger sums of taxpayers money to corporations (developers) in the form
of reduced county fees & streamlined permitting. Perhaps there is another reason Blaine Young doesnít want an elected Charter Writing Board Ö
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