One for the ‘Hall of Shame’

Frederick News Post
Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback
06/09/2012
I am embarrassed by the priorities and values expressed through the budget affirmed by the Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday. Government, on behalf of the community, has a responsibility to care for its neediest. The budget decisions pronounced Thursday regarding financial support for nonprofit-based social services appear to neglect this responsibility for the whole community's well-being. The prospect of small rebate checks to property owners only compounds this denigration of our community. This is not simply something for the Hall of Shame and an embarrassment to a community I call home, but a dereliction of responsibility.

One for the 'Hall of Shame'

Frederick News Post
Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback
06/09/2012
I am embarrassed by the priorities and values expressed through the budget affirmed by the Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday. Government, on behalf of the community, has a responsibility to care for its neediest. The budget decisions pronounced Thursday regarding financial support for nonprofit-based social services appear to neglect this responsibility for the whole community's well-being. The prospect of small rebate checks to property owners only compounds this denigration of our community. This is not simply something for the Hall of Shame and an embarrassment to a community I call home, but a dereliction of responsibility.

Lack of civility

Frederick News Post
Bonnie Bailey-Baker and Claire Kondig
05/26/2012
The League of Women Voters of Frederick County has been concerned not only with an apparent lack of transparency in the decision-making process of the Board of County Commissioners, but also by the disrespect shown by a commissioner who referred to those who spoke against proposed budget cuts to nonprofit organizations as "whiners." Does this type of dismissive name-calling contribute to civility in the governmental process? We don't think so. Advocating for funding for nonprofit organizations that participate in a competitive grant process to provide significant services to the community is certainly not "whining." Nor were religious leaders "whining" when they shared how congregations were already supporting social services with funding and volunteer time, but that they are not capable of filling the gap left by the withdrawal of county funds. The league is also concerned that Frederick County will be the only county in Maryland that will not support grant funding to worthy nonprofit organizations. The LWVFC urges the commissioners to remember that they represent all of the citizens of Frederick County. And that's not "whining." That's just good government.

Thinking all about me

Frederick News Post
Jan Daffern
05/20/2012
I am a pastor and a mental health professional, but I am writing as a taxpayer. When I heard that the Board of County Commissioners had voted to send property owners a $100 refund, my response was, "I want all of my money back." Our commissioners tell us regularly that we are abused as taxpayers, and I am starting to believe that message. Maybe this citizenship business really is all about me. I believe a lot of people agree with me and long to be liberated from the burden of supporting programs and services we don't understand, don't personally choose and don't use. How could I have missed this point for so long? As citizens of Frederick County, we should be trusted to put our fair share into the specific projects we are passionate about. For me, they are public education, services for the vulnerable, children, the physically and mentally disabled, the elderly and the poor. I want more than a percentage of my tax dollars going to these programs; I want all of my tax dollars going to them and I want to write the checks myself. When I say public education, remember it is all about me, so I mean Frederick and Linganore high schools and their feeder schools -- because that's where my kids went. The rest of Frederick County citizens can take care of their own kids. My family had great teachers who are truly deserving of my money.

Young’s double standard

Frederick News Post
Jan Samet O'Leary
05/18/2012
Commissioners President Blaine Young contradicts his own argument in his May 11 commentary regarding the cuts in grants to certain Frederick County nonprofits. He says that "if a nonprofit provides a service that otherwise would be a part of the traditional range of services ... then I believe an appropriate level of government funding is appropriate ..." He then adduces the 10-plus percent of the non-Board of Education budget that is directed toward "grants-in-aid" programs, which he calls "community support," and lists a number of programs that receive such aid. Evidently these fall within his notion of "traditional" services; otherwise, why suggest that support for them is acceptable? I fail to see how the missions and services of the organizations whose grants have been cut, and are in peril of being reduced to zero next year, differ in any meaningful way from the agencies that continue to receive county support. Is the work of the Mental Health Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartly House, the Alzheimer's Association, the ARC of Frederick County, Advocates for Homeless Families, and the American Red Cross (just a few of the organizations to be cut) so different from that of the Child Advocacy Center, the Scott Key Center, our county senior centers, the Office for Children and Families, the Housing Department, and others that Young favors? C'mon, Blaine, you can't have it both ways.

Young's double standard

Frederick News Post
Jan Samet O'Leary
05/18/2012
Commissioners President Blaine Young contradicts his own argument in his May 11 commentary regarding the cuts in grants to certain Frederick County nonprofits. He says that "if a nonprofit provides a service that otherwise would be a part of the traditional range of services ... then I believe an appropriate level of government funding is appropriate ..." He then adduces the 10-plus percent of the non-Board of Education budget that is directed toward "grants-in-aid" programs, which he calls "community support," and lists a number of programs that receive such aid. Evidently these fall within his notion of "traditional" services; otherwise, why suggest that support for them is acceptable? I fail to see how the missions and services of the organizations whose grants have been cut, and are in peril of being reduced to zero next year, differ in any meaningful way from the agencies that continue to receive county support. Is the work of the Mental Health Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartly House, the Alzheimer's Association, the ARC of Frederick County, Advocates for Homeless Families, and the American Red Cross (just a few of the organizations to be cut) so different from that of the Child Advocacy Center, the Scott Key Center, our county senior centers, the Office for Children and Families, the Housing Department, and others that Young favors? C'mon, Blaine, you can't have it both ways.

Commissioners shouldn’t phase out nonprofit partnerships

Gazette
05/03/2012
In cutting the funding Frederick County provides to nonprofits that serve the needy and disabled, the Board of County Commissioners is endangering a useful partnership with the private sector that can save the county money

Honesty, deceit and Chicken Little

Frederick News Post
John Helms
04/08/2012
Commissioner Blaine Young and his allies began their terms talking about the structural deficit. They said things were so bad that they were forced to cut expenses including firing or eliminating staff. Over 175 positions including professional firefighters were ripped from the base of those providing needed services, cutting $8.4 million. They crippled the Head Start program to the tune of $2.3 million. They reduced payments to nonprofit and noncounty agencies by $350,000 and they reduced pay and benefits for employees (including nurses) at the Citizens and Montevue centers to the tune of $625,000 per year. The sky is falling, watch out for the structural deficit! When they thought we weren't looking, they danced with the ones that brung 'em to the dance (good ol' boy language for the Frederick Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick County Builders Association). They dropped the excise tax rate to zero, saving the developers an estimated $925,000 a year. They reduced permitting fees paid by builders by approximately $500,000 per year. In addition they went right to work on a list of over 200 changes given to them by the builders and developers to fix rules and regulations they didn't like or that cost them too much money. Some warned what was happening.

Nonprofits warn programs will suffer due to cuts

Young says more cuts to come in 2013 as county continues to struggle with less revenue
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
04/21/2011
Frederick County residents who depend on help to pay for medical prescriptions, a warm bed at the Cold Weather Shelter, or counseling for mental illness could find themselves turned away. The Religious Coalition for Emergency Needs in Frederick County this week outlined the impact of budget cuts proposed in the county's $448 million operating budget for fiscal 2012.

Debate on Head Start has lost sight

Gazette
Bob Rosensteel
02/24/2011
Far too much attention is being focused on whether Frederick County Commissioners C. Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter said that a woman's place is in the home. Ideally, yes, but not realistic. We are losing sight of the broader implications of what they said in the context of the Head Start program. Their comments were offered after the parents told how they needed the program and begged for it not to be cut.