Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor wants Mike Spurrier, executive director of the Frederick Community Action Agency, gone. And unless the Board of Aldermen steps in, O’Connor is probably going to get his way.

Spurrier has been something of a lightning rod in downtown Frederick for years because of his role as an advocate for the homeless. He has overseen an agency that has offered food, shelter, medical care and other assistance to some of our most vulnerable residents.

It’s a situation he hasn’t created, though it is one that he’s been passionately trying to address. But by offering these services at a center near Carroll Creek, widely seen as the gem of downtown Frederick, some have been critical that the center’s clients have been seen drinking, urinating, loitering and littering next to Carroll Creek, a popular spot for tourists and the community.

There have been calls to move the FCAA site, calls that Spurrier said he is open to considering if there was another spot in town where a soup kitchen and shelter would be welcome. It’s not an easy fix, to say the least.

But we’re not solely focused on O’Connor’s decision to remove Spurrier. As an elected official, he gets to make that call, and voters will get to weigh in on that decision and others should he seek re-election.

And while we want to know the whats and whys that went into O’Connor’s decision, we have a more pertinent, bigger-picture question for the mayor.

What’s the plan?

Surely, getting rid of the biggest advocate for this particular group isn’t a silver bullet to solve these problems. There must be more, right?

At Wednesday’s city workshop, the mayor said that no plan has been discussed with anyone in that room regarding the direction of the FCAA. Why not?

How does the mayor envision caring for the homeless in Frederick? How does the mayor balance the economic and tourism needs of a growing city along with the compassionate approach necessary to take care of our less fortunate?

Frankly, it’s an issue that we’ve debated here for years. But we’ve always seemed to dance around the issue of homelessness, whether for politically correct reasons or because of a lack of focus from our elected officials.

That approach, however, hasn’t been particularly fair to anyone. Yes, we’ve given some attention to homelessness, but clearly, it hasn’t been enough. We must have an approach that not only helps the homeless find health care, employment and transitional housing, but also addresses the crime and fear of crime that are associated with those who live on the street.

So, we ask again, Mr. Mayor, how do we move forward?

O’Connor has yet to comment on the Spurrier situation publicly, and in his defense, he can’t for the moment talk publicly about it. Certain employee privacy regulations and, we hope, respect for the years of service Spurrier has given to Frederick have kept him quiet.

We hope that, to build upon O’Connor’s comment Wednesday, there is something we don’t know and that he has a plan to move forward. We hope that plan includes involving the various stakeholders whose views should be heard. Part of the plan should include not only how he’s going to bring together the community, but also who might ultimately lead the FCAA.

Frederick was once a national leader in showing how to effectively revitalize a downtown.

If the mayor’s plan, whatever it may be, is done right, the city has a chance to again be a leader — this time in keeping a beautiful downtown, but also in showing compassion and presenting solutions to help our most vulnerable.

(18) comments

charlie1balls

Check out articles about Built for Zero. It's the holistic approach Frederick needs. The homeless people need to be classified into sub-populations as to who most urgently needs help, down to the least urgent. The least urgent group (the group committing the daily petty nuisance crimes) needs to be motivated to shape up or ship out. How is this done? Let them know in 30 days the free food is over.

corgikid

For starters, whatever Governor Newsome is doing in California, we need to do the exact opposite.

petersamuel

Yes, this article suggests California's government is crazy:

https://www.city-journal.org/west-coast-shoplifting-boom/

firedupterp

more of - let's hide the problem and not address it.

KellyAlzan

The current mayors conduct is ba’lane Youngs best advocate for his campaign. Just as ba’lane’s conduct while he was commissioner is what got Gardner the c/e seat. O’connor Is going to make ba’lane mayor.

Elected people are so blind thatbtheir conduct often times helps their opponents.

Comment deleted.
DickD

Your distorted view is a result of too much Faux News and Trump's alternative facts, John.

DickD

It is a real conflict. You want to help the less fortunate and keep them off the street. The question is how to do it. In days before Social Security and welfare there were homes that they could go to. Even now this might be the answer. ..However you would probably want City police to round them up and take them there. It would stop the drinkingand urination problem. And it could stop panhandling and get addicts off the street too.

Comment deleted.
gary4books

John: Your notion of US History is very much wrong. Check out Roresidets Carter, Truman and earlier to see what they left with. You seem to have a "straw figure" you call "liberal." Why not contest with reality? I live in it every day.


petersamuel

Good editorial. But there's another major City staff change that is causing speculation -- the departure of the City's director of communications, Patti Mullins. No announcement, no explanation. Did she jump? Or was she pushed? Where has she gone? A former senior reporter at the Frederick News-Post, Patti has quietly disappeared and no one I've asked seems to know why. Or where she is.

Comment deleted.
rpkrauss

So John Doe, what’s your plan?

Dwasserba

"As an elected official, he gets to make that call..." More than once, I haven't agreed with personnel decisions that affected myself or people I cared about, or the way a supervisor interpreted what his/her job was. I wasn't consulted beforehand or during or afterward, because someone else decided whose opinions mattered. You wait and you wonder, and that's what you are entitled to.

CityBoy

The Board are the experts? Have you seen downtown? If that is the case, we need new experts.

Burgessdr

CityBaby. FCAA is not responsible for people taking drugs. What a delusional idea. You must be on drugs yourself.

Burgessdr

From other article



Diane Fink, an FCAA board member, explained that she and her colleagues were shocked to find out that Spurrier was being dismissed from his duties. She even cited O’Connor being mum about it at the last meeting between him and the board.



“We had absolutely zero notification,” Fink said. “We have been led to understand that he [O’Connor] wants to take the action agency into a new direction.



If that is his desire, I think the proper way to handle this would have been to come to the board and talk to us and let us know what that direction was. ... Let’s have a discussion about it. To blame Mr. Spurrier ... for the crime in our city and the way people behave is absolutely absurd.”



So firsthand comment from a Board member suggests that the Mayor is blaming Spurrier for crime, and fired him in attempt to make a statement that he is doing something about crime in attempt to get people off his back.



Problem is the Mayor has no plan whatsoever since he has not talked to the FCAA Board who are the experts.



Stay tuned. There may be fireworks from the Board about the lack of a plan

DickD

There definitely should have been a plan and discussed with the Board.

grisgris

This sums it up perfectly. Thanks FNP

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominem criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.