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.