The 4-1 vote recently to sell the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities and disband their board of trustees, illustrates the latest example of Frederick County government behaving badly.
Immediately following the 2010 election, new board of county commissioners’ president Blaine Young (R) proclaimed Frederick County “Open for Business.”
Joining Young as newly elected Republicans on the five member board were Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve and Paul Smith, who I quickly dubbed with the moniker; “Blaine and Co.,” the moniker resulting from their like ideology and the carte blanche votes Delauter, Shreve and Smith gave to Young on anything Young would propose.
Fueled by “tea party” fervor, prevalent across the nation, that promoted less government and less spending, Blaine and Co. wasted no time in promoting these ideals, a disturbing pattern of governing that clearly illustrates how following ideology often trumps reasonable representation.
The resulting action from Blaine and Co. was felt immediately after their election, when they moved to eliminate $2 million in county funding for Head Start, a proven and effective federal program that helps children in need during the critical early years of development.
What has followed over the next 2 1/2 years has been a continued move to follow an irresponsible privatization path in governing.
Whether, it was spending of $25,000 of taxpayers’ money for a poorly and hastily prepared privatization report, actions taken to reverse county property zoning, drastically reducing or eliminating funding for community nonprofits at a time when their services are most needed, an ill conceived $100 rebate to property owners, establishing a nonreversible 20-year county-developer agreement, to the latest effort to sell quickly, without due diligence, the Citizens-Montevue facilities, Blaine and Co. are angering voters and invoking calls for change in next year’s election.
The rush to privatize has exceeded common sense, with board president Young denigrating along the way those who question his moves.
Perhaps, the state attorney general’s office will weigh in with an advice letter on the sale of the Citizens-Montevue facilities. The board of trustees, seeking legal guidance and prior to be disbanded, sent a detailed letter that was forwarded by Delegate Galen Clagett (D-District 3-a), expressing their questions pertaining to the sale of the facilities.
Some of the prickly questions, in addition to whether the 1828 deed allows for the transfer, include whether the state Board of Public Works would have to approve the contract, as there is a $250,000 state grant that needs to be reimbursed, and whether donations that were received from the public would also need to be paid back.
Furthermore, local attorney Leslie Powell, who is already appealing the subdivision of the property, informed me she has been retained by interested parties and intends to pursue legal recourse should the board of county commissioners ratify the contract.
Frederick County residents deserve reasonable and effective representation, not a government that mirrors a dysfunctional Congress in Washington.
Taking a sound approach to examining the privatization of some government services may be helpful. However, government is not and will never be a business. Representative government works best when elected officials recognize their responsibility to govern for all, not just those who voted for them.
Government exists to help level the playing field, to serve as the referee, ensuring all are treated in an equal and fair manner. It should never be operated with a profit motive in mind, but rather to provide needed services for the benefit of all citizens.
The rush to sell the brand new Citizens-Montevue homes by Blaine and Co. demonstrates their continued reckless attempts to pursue a dubious privatization ideology fraught with problems and the lack of sound judgment.
What would be nice to see as one enters Frederick County would be signs that say “Welcome to a Well-Planned Community”
Voters should demand change in 2014.
George Wenschhof is publisher/editor of www.FrederickPolitics.com. He writes from Frederick.