With just a few days left before Election Day, we’re proud of the record turnout here in Frederick County and, for that matter, the rest of the country. Long lines or not, so many of you have shown up to be counted.

Presidential elections tend to bring out the voters, but we’ve never seen this kind of turnout. As of the middle of this past week, those who have either voted early or by mail-in ballots has exceeded 80 million, more than half of the number of voters who cast ballots four years ago across the country.

Stuart Harvey, elections director for the county, told us earlier this week that we could expect as many as 85 percent of registered voters in the county to cast their ballots this time around. That would be amazing.

For those who haven’t voted yet, there’s still three more days (counting today) to early vote and then, of course, there’s the traditional Election Day on Tuesday. We hope you don’t stand on the sidelines during this most important time.

We take identity theft seriously. So we sort of understand where County Executive Jan Gardner is coming from in her proposal in the county’s state legislative priorities, where she included amending the state’s public information act law to exclude releasing the salaries of most county employees. Division directors and high-level employees would not be protected by the change.

But we also take government transparency very seriously. And this is where we’ll have to disagree with the county executive’s position. We have always felt that since taxpayers foot the bill for county employee salaries, they have a right to know what the salaries are.

Gardner has said that she fears releasing these salaries makes these employees possible targets for identity theft. But as Councilmen Kai Hagen a Democrat, and Phil Dacey, a Republican, pointed out at a council meeting this week, making the change to the state law would set a bad precedent, especially since there are no concrete examples of this being a problem.

“If you are going to be at the leading edge of something, to make something less transparent … I think there [has to be] a burden of the evidence that the problem exists,” Hagen said.

We agree that there needs to be good reason for changing a law. Shy of any real evidence, we’re going to take a dim view on limiting what are already weaker public information rules in Maryland.

A big congratulations to Casey Keyser, a Butterfly Ridge Elementary School third-grade teacher, for being one of five teachers nationally to receive the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.

The Brunswick High grad received the award, one of the highest national awards which honors teachers for their dedication to the profession. Keyser, who was nominated by the Maryland State Education Association, received the award recently along with educators from Alaska, Ohio, North Dakota and Massachusetts.

“I have had the pleasure of observing [Keyser] teach, and any student in her class is indeed fortunate,” Superintendent Terry Alban told us this week.”[Keyser] is an educational innovator and leader who always keeps the needs of students as the priority.”

Along with the honor, Keyser will receive a $10,000 grant from the National Education Association Foundation. She plans to use some of that money to purchase virtual classroom supplies. That is another example of her dedication. It’s comforting to know that there are teachers like Keyser teaching in Frederick County.

Finally, today is Halloween, the day when children will traditionally go door to door trick-or-treating for candy. But in these pandemic days, those kids taking part will likely be a fraction of those who typically participate.

We adults likely all have fond memories of our childhoods dressing up in costumes to then go out to see who could fill their plastic pumpkin buckets with as many pieces of chocolate as we could. (And for the record, we loved it when we’d get those full-sized Hershey bars!)

So our hearts go out to those kids who might not get that experience this year. We’re hoping that parents and neighbors are finding a way to keep this tradition alive this year in a socially-distant and COVID-friendly way. We had a story this week about parents who are leaving out pre-bagged candies or even a few who have MacGyver’d PVC pipes to dispense candy.

It’s to these folks that we are saying thanks for doing what you can to bring some normal into today’s celebration. And as long as everyone is wearing masks, washing their hands and keeping a safe distance, we’re supportive. Just remember, don’t eat all that candy in one night. Our memories of trying to do that aren’t the greatest.

Yeas and nays is a weekly feature of quick-hit opinions from The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board. Send your suggestions to letters@newspost.com.

(9) comments

MD1756

Why would any criminal but stupid enough to target identity theft of Frederick government employees when they can target just about the entire federal workforce? Anyone can find out the salaries of federal government employees plus any bonuses they've earned. There are many more federal government employees and they tend to earn more so stealing their identities would provide criminals with more ill gotten gains than just Frederick employees. Yet there is no major issue from federal employees salaries being known, even after hackers got personal information from OPM a couple of times. I know some of my personal information was included in one of the data breaches.

There is clearly some other unstated motive behind this.

BTW, public disclouse can kick in well before GS-15, especially if you have anything to do with compliance, enforcement or contracts (just managing a work assignment get you into public disclosure). Here is a link to find individuals' salaries: https://www.fedsdatacenter.com/federal-pay-rates/ . I checked it out and found one of my former coworkers (who is still working). It not only gives their salary but also their job title.

So again there is something behind this effort that has nothing to do with identity theft.

TomWheatley

I am fairly sure the rank and file of the State and Federal Government don't have their salary/hourly wage published, but at some level, it is. The public disclosure form kicks in for GS-15 and some supervisory positions and is very likely public information as it is called a public disclosure form :).

MD1756

See my post, rank and file federal employees do have their data publicly available.

HappySeller2014

It is available, Tom. Every single Federal employee, from a GS 1/2 through SES. Not hard to find. You search by a person's name.

Unless you know what you are talking about, be careful. This post makes you look unawares and misinformed.

Just Google "Federal Employee Employee Salaries" and see what you come up with. Numerous sites provide this information.

TomWheatley

Little bit of both in terms of some not publicly accessible.

https://www.fedsmith.com/2013/05/07/releasing-names-and-federal-employee-salaries-since-1816/

HappySeller2014

There are numerous public databases I can access in less than 30 seconds with exact information on the yearly salaries paid to individual Federal employees. Information going back many years. And information on the bonuses they receive. And there are about 2.1 million of them. These internet sites have been around for years. Many states have similar internet website resources available to the public.

Why now is Frederick County starting to mask the availability of some county employee salaries? Is something being hidden? After all, we Frederick County taxpayers pay Frederick County employee salaries!

And, why use the excuse higher paid employees are being protected? Criminals and fraudsters look for opportunity and will seize money and information on anyone. Where is Frederick County drawing the line between employees who are protected and those who are not?

This is stupid. Terrible public policy and administrative malfeasance.

DickD

Are you questioning the elected leaders?

HappySeller2014

Not questioning. Stating the obvious fact this is a very questionable move, DickD.

DickD

Anyone working for the County is not likely to want their wages shown. I wouldn't.

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