The transition team appointed by Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater to help guide her new administration has produced a report that challenges the executive to meet many goals.
Fitzwater has accepted the challenge and promised last week that she will take on the transition team’s blueprint and use it to prioritize the work of her administration for the next four years.
Fitzwater created the transition team in December, led by co-chairs Toni Bowie, founder and managing partner of the local workplace culture company MaxLife, and Rick Weldon, president and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.
Frederick is fortunate to have such experienced leaders on which a newly elected executive can draw. More than 130 volunteers from all parts of the county were organized into eight committees.
They studied such topics as economic development, education, workforce development and government innovation, and offered 64 specific recommendations. Some involved the way in which the administration is organized, but most urged specific action on how the Fitzwater administration should proceed.
• Reorganize and revitalize the Business and Industry Cabinet, created by former County Executive Jan Gardner to hear directly from the business community. Partly because of the pandemic, the group has not met for three years, but it is worth having.
• Streamline permitting by expanding the Fast Track Permitting program to serve existing businesses.
• Create a Minority Business Enterprise program to support and encourage the growth of minority contractors.
• Provide targeted tax relief to ALICE (asset limited, income constrained, employed) families.
• Raise teacher salaries and explore other incentives, like expanding workforce housing, to recruit and retain teachers.
• Partner with Frederick County Public Schools to develop universal pre-kindergarten.
• Establish a Division of Housing to help low- and moderate-income families, including more federally subsidized housing.
• Strengthen the health care workforce, in which the extreme stress of the pandemic has led to worker shortages.
Not every suggestion will be implemented quickly, and some might never come to fruition. But her team has given Fitzwater a road map, and she has promised to follow it to the extent possible.
To her credit, Fitzwater has vowed to begin publishing on the county website a continuously updated report card on which of the suggestions have been implemented.
One suggestion has the potential for far-reaching impact. The recommendation is that the administration work closely with Hood College’s Data Driven Frederick project, which the college describes as “a centralized repository of information about the region’s health, economy, social welfare, land use and infrastructure, serving as a dynamic local and regional resource for area leaders in all business sectors.”
The report said the county executive should collaborate with Data Driven Frederick to create a model public-private partnership to increase cooperation within our community and to “increase transparency, promote trust, foster innovation, and strengthen accountability.”
The report quite pointedly emphasized that the public must be informed about what works and what does not.
“The Transition Team expects the County Executive will use and share data, even when the data make us uncomfortable,” the report said.
Not everyone will agree with every recommendation, including potentially controversial ones like attracting more of the huge data centers built by Amazon and other companies that do cloud hosting.
But the team has provided a document that gives Fitzwater a clear idea of the work ahead. We look forward to tracking the progress.
Sorry to say, “increase transparency, promote trust, foster innovation, and strengthen accountability” went out the window when CE Fitzwater proved political patronage is alive and well by creating two high paying jobs out of thin air (on her immediate staff) and gave them to a previous campaign manager and the other to a political supporter and confidant who has lost in 3 previous attempts at elected office.
it is pretty common to hand out new jobs to people on your campaign or political supporters when elected. Like, for example, creating a job for your daughter and son-in-law when you are elected President.
Or like when sheriff Trumpkins hired one of his big campaign helpers as a deputy, even though public court records showed he had a domestic case against him. Oh, and then his great deputy / personal friend shot a dog confined to its fenced in backyard…..
The dog was not confined to his fenced-in backyard, plumbum. You were provided with the dashcam video disproving your claim, so stop lying.
Gabe - it's typical Plum's spouting off about something he knows nothing about - or thinks they/them do! All these Ding-a-lings voted for Fitzwater, and you get what you vote for!! I told you all this would happen during the campaigning. Your Honor, I rest my case!! Hahahaha!
Pumbum it pleases me everyday to realize you have such a miserable life because Sheriff Jenkins is in office. Karma is beautiful.
If you were hiring staff, why wouldn't you look at the people you have been working with for the past year? Do you feel losing an election means someone is incompetent? If so, how do you feel about Mike Hough or Kelly Schulz? If jobs were created "out of thin air", are they useful to the county? Were we understaffed before? These are all good questions to consider before you get "tead off".
You have to start somewhere. Some are short time goals and some are long term goals but all must be goals that Frederick County will ultimately achieve. Don’t give up on the difficult ones, all can be done for the next generations. Good job Toni and Rick and all of those volunteers who care about the future of their hometown. Thanks!
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