Three Frederick County councilmen are frustrated that they aren’t able to meet with county staff and get information in a timely manner.
Councilmen Tony Chmelik, Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve aren’t blaming the staff. They are blaming Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, and the process they are being asked to follow.
The tension comes in part from a few lines in the new charter, which took effect in December. The charter states that council members can’t give directions to county staff who work under the executive, which is all employees except for those in the council’s office.
It also states it is the executive’s duty to “provide any information that is requested by the Council in writing for the purpose of introducing and evaluating legislation or to engage in the review and monitoring of government programs, activities and policy implementation.”
Council members have been asked to email their chief of staff, Ragen Cherney, to request a meeting with staff or get information. Cherney is meant to pass the requests to Doug Browning, the county’s chief administrative officer, who will then work on them. This is in part to help avoid duplicate requests.
Chmelik, who has been vocal at council meetings about his frustration in not being able to get information or meet with staff, gave one specific example. He wanted to meet with Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the county’s health officer, to talk about Planned Parenthood, according to emails he shared with The Frederick News-Post. That meeting was denied.
Shreve gave several examples, including requests for budget information and a request to meet with county staff about medical marijuana zoning rules. Gardner provided emails showing that some requests Shreve has made have been addressed, but Shreve remains adamant that he did not receive the information he wanted.
Gardner says the county’s staff generally provides information in a timely manner.
Chmelik and Gardner have different interpretations of the line explaining how the executive must provide information. Chmelik reads this as the county must supply council members with information when they ask for it. The executive reads this as the majority of the council would need to agree that the council needs the information.
Hearing his fellow council members’ concerns, Council President Bud Otis said that he wants to help. Otis said he has not individually had an issue getting information when he needs it, but he doesn’t want others to be frustrated.
Otis said Tuesday that the council’s chief of staff and the county’s chief administrative officer were meeting this week to talk about ways to make it work better, and he will have more to share next week.
Ideas for legislation
The County Council wants to hear from residents about what they think the county’s priorities should be in the next General Assembly in Annapolis.
The council will host a workshop at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss what to include in its legislative packet. The council will be reviewing recommendations from the county executive, deciding which of the recommendations to support, and whether to recommend some priorities of its own.
Email ideas to the full council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidate launches committee to help VA
Delegate David Vogt, a Marine Corps veteran, wants to improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Vogt, a Republican who is running for Congress in the state’s 6th District, is asking veterans who think veteran services should improve to join his new committee called Veterans for Vogt. Vogt said he doesn’t think Rep. John Delaney, D-6th, is doing enough.
“We need comprehensive reform of the VA; anyone who has spent time in a VA hospital can see it,” he wrote.
This committee will “provide policy feedback and help grow our fundraising base,” according to a statement from Vogt’s campaign manager in a news release.
In other words, they will donate to his campaign. In another news release sent out a few minutes later, he asked for those donations, including a link to his website, www.vogtforcongress.com.