A recent letter to the editor called out County Council members’ “intent of unethical behavior” in passing the fiscal 2018 budget, but such a claim only exemplifies the author’s misunderstanding of the word fallacy.

The author’s main complaint is the supposed conflict of interest that occurs when two Frederick County Public Schools employees, Fitzwater and Donald, serve on the elected body that approves a budget that will inevitably fund FCPS. The argument here is so flawed that it could be used as an example on an exam to test a student’s understanding of the term “logical fallacy.”

What the author must be missing is that the budget process doesn’t allow council members to add or increase items. Meaning that the funding for a potential salary increase, which I’ll remind you still needs to be allocated through the Board of Education, was put in the budget by the budget office under the county executive. Fitzwater and Donald only had the power to vote on the budget as a whole. Could they have decreased section of the budget dealing with FCPS funding? Yes, but why? For optics? No, thank you. FCPS is constantly losing skilled and valuable educators to surrounding counties because Frederick hasn’t been offering competitive salaries.

Finally, the author equates this situation to the rule prohibiting W.F. Delauter & Son from bidding on county projects while the owner, Councilman Kirby Delauter, sits on the council. The scale to which Delauter’s influence could benefit him financially greatly surpasses the benefit of a pay scale increase for Fitzwater and Donald. These are rotten apples and Florida oranges here.

The council voted on a complete budget, which included increased funding to schools, fire and rescue services, and programs to serve the aging population. With the author’s logic, the entire council voted in self-interest, as they will all inevitably benefit from the services funded by the budget they have passed. That’s a fallacy.

Victoria Venable

New Market

(11) comments


Victoria Venable is a highly effective writer who deftly demolishes Jill's paralegal-babble LTE.






As a follow up to my last comment I might add consideration of peer pressure. Do you honestly believe peer pressure from their working environment, working among colleagues whose raises and benefits are directly effected by your vote does not exist. Of course not. the ethics are simple. FCPS needed the money.


I've worked at the same school as Jessica Fitzwater for the past four years. I've never once heard anyone pressure Jessica on any topic whatsoever, let alone salaries. If she were on the school board that might be different, which is one of the reasons it's not possible for an FCPS teacher to be on the school board here. Jessica does an excellent job of keeping her two worlds separated. And the rest of us are all too busy to spend our time pressuring a colleague.


Kay [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]


Why would you assume teachers would pressure either of them?? If you have any proof, present it. Otherwise stop trying to create a situation that doesn't exist.


Ms. Venable,
Logical fallacy? Of course it was not unethical because FCPS needed the money. ???? And what does optics have to do with appearance, a criteria within ethical guidelines????

Obviously this is a new situation. This has always been held to be unethical. The convoluted AG opinion on the matter wasn't issued until 2016 and they refused to take an absolute State position, placing the decision in County control. So be careful in the next election, A new County Executive, by precedent via Executive order,citing the very unusual circumstances surrounding the formation of the "now" ethics commission could rule against teacher's voting on budgets. Unfortunately via the maintenance of effort law damage has already occurred.


Everyone on the board is a taxpayer, yet they can raise or lower taxes that affect them. Are you saying that they cannot do so because it is a conflict?

Ludicrous! I'm being polite.


Once again jsk makes things appear as facts when it is really simply his opinion. Have to call wishful thinking on this one too.

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