In an amazing premonition of ethical actions by the our newly elected County Council, we have seen one of its members promote their own financial benefit — I speak, of course, to the actions by Councilman Jerry Donald.
As previously noted in my letter of July 22, “Flaws in new ethics proposal,” the major concern from our newly elected county executive, Jan Gardner, was a possible financial gain by “private” company owner in an elected position with our county government. This situation is highly dubious, as bids for county projects are not only sealed, but we have a county staff that should not be ethically influenced by a private business owner, even if that person holds a County Council elected position.
Yet, we were assured by our county executive, the previous ethics board, Gardner’s appointed Ethics Reform Task Force, the Frederick County Public Schools union, and numerous other political pundits that this could not possibly be of issue if we elected sitting school employees. Imagine our surprise to see this is not the case!
In an Aug. 5 Frederick News-Post article, “Budget takes center stage at joint meeting between Board of Education, County Council,” we saw exactly the opposite. “Donald questioned why Frederick County had fallen so far behind on teacher compensation when Washington County has a similar tax base.” Yes, you read that correctly — an elected councilman questioned why the school board has not raised his own salary!
Fortunately, The News-Post reported that school board members “likened the comparison between counties to that between apples and oranges, saying that budgeting looks different in every jurisdiction.”
It is time to either call upon those elected FCPS members (Donald and Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater) to either recuse themselves in such issues or, better, to honestly review the new ethics proposals (both via executive order and now through an ordinance) to realize it is biased and harmful to all people in Frederick County.