Officials look for legal guidance on outside pay for county executives

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/22/2013
State Sen. David Brinkley said he plans to ask for legal guidance on whether someone who owns a business, collects retirement benefits or earns other private income could serve as Frederick County executive. The Frederick County charter set to take effect next year stipulates that an executive cannot "participate in any private occupation for compensation," and as election season heats up, some are wondering exactly what those words mean. After a meeting with Frederick County commissioners Thursday, Brinkley said he doesn't think the charter writers meant that an executive can't earn any income outside the $95,000 annual salary that comes with the office. "If it was interpreted in the broadest sense, no one would qualify," Brinkley said. "Or at least, I wouldn't want a person in there who has no dividends, interest, retirement or any type of income from any other source. That's just unreasonable." Brinkley began asking questions about the employment restrictions after hearing Commissioners President Blaine Young discuss the issue on his afternoon radio show. Young is considering a run for the county executive post in 2014, but wouldn't relish sacrificing ownership of several businesses.

Underrepresented on growth

Frederick News Post
11/16/2013
The growth task force, recently formed by the Board of County Commissioners to investigate ways for development to pay for its impact on our schools, roads, water and sewer supplies, and other infrastructure, lacks a broad enough membership to deliver a comprehensive and fair solution. Groups represented include the Frederick County Association of Realtors, Frederick County Building Industry Association, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, a municipality, and the senior, education and library communities. Elected officials from Frederick County’s delegation of state delegates and senators will also serve — it was the choice of precisely who from that delegation would join the task force that caused some contention earlier this week. Delegate Kathy Afzali, a Republican who represents northern Frederick County, was rejected as a participant by a fellow Republican, Sen. David Brinkley. Brinkley instead selected Sen. Ron Young, a Democrat, and delegates Patrick Hogan (R) and Galen Clagett (D). While we understand the argument that Young, Hogan and Clagett represent districts that include the city of Frederick, an area naturally suited for more growth, we also understand Afzali’s position that she represents Monrovia, an area in which the debate over development is current and controversial. “Afzali is about Afzali and not a solution to the problem,” Brinkley told reporter Bethany Rodgers. Yes, Afzali has an annoying tendency to want to grab headlines, but she makes a good point about the task force’s composition: It has a clear bias toward developers, builders and real estate agents. While we understand that those representatives are some of the key industries affected by either a transfer tax on the sale of existing homes or an impact tax on the sale of new ones, what the group lacks is representation from county residents — the taxpayers — who also have skin in the game.

Petitioning change

Frederick News Post
08/08/2013
Commissioners President Blaine Young is dismissive of their value, saying no local petition has changed his mind on any important question. He mentions two hot-button issues — the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator and education funding — as examples. Commissioner Billy Shreve is of the same mind, especially when he receives a form letter from an online petition site such as Change.org, which anyone can weigh in on. Says Shreve, “If I get a letter from someone in Australia, I pay zero attention to it.” But for average citizens, petitions can be a means to express their displeasure with local government and its decisions, and the simple act of doing so can be rewarding. While the effort may not succeed, there is value in it for those who participate. Frederick resident Ed Hinde, who promoted an online petition to recall Young, admits that he’d be hard-pressed to name any petition drive that’s had an effect on the commissioners. But he says, “I think the ones I’ve participated in are a venting of public angst. The basic premise is getting people educated and engaged.” Hinde makes a good point.

County charter goes to voters

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
07/11/2012
Members of the Frederick County Charter Board didn't agree on everything Tuesday night, but they reached a unanimous consensus on one thing. The nine voting members agreed to advance the proposed charter and send the document to voters in November. The final vote put an end to nearly 16 months of meetings to draft what could define the county's government.