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The Tentacle


August 5, 2005

Brains, Brawn, and Berlin

Chris Charuhas

Ken Berlin, candidate for alderman in The City of Frederick, is showing that he has both brains and brawn. His brains have generated some interesting new ideas for Frederick. His "brawn" is his willingness to expend a lot of effort to turn these ideas into reality.

Candidate Berlin knows that laissez-faire, no-rules real estate development could make Frederick too expensive for most Fredericktonians. So he's proposing a "20/20" development program, in which 20 percent of every 20 new housing units are designated as affordable housing. When the units sell, the city gets a cut of the profits for reinvestment in the program. This program could go a long way towards ensuring that people who work in Frederick can live here, and aren't forced to relocate to Hagerstown or West Virginia.

Another sharp idea from Mr. Berlin is his proposal to separate the city budget into two categories, pertaining to taxes and fees, health and safety, and quality of life. The former category would contain items such as police and sewer service, while the latter would contain things like the Clustered Spires Golf Course and the Weinberg Center. This would make it easier for Frederick residents to figure out where their taxes are going. Citizens could support a tax increase to get more police on the streets, while declining fees to fund things like maintenance of Grove Stadium, where the Frederick Keys play.

A lot of politicians talk about combating government waste as a way to save money, but unlike most of them, Candidate Berlin seems to have figured out a way to actually do it.

Noting that the city spends more than three and a half million dollars a year in health insurance for its workers, Mr. Berlin proposes consolidating the three insurance programs that now cover city staff into a single program. He believes this could save the city enough money to easily cover its employees' salaries, eliminating any possible need for staff cuts.

Mr. Berlin's fertile brain has generated some smart ideas about Frederick government, but all the smart ideas in the world don't mean a thing if they' re never realized. That's where "brawn" comes in - the willingness to work hard to sell and implement new ideas.

Judging from his tireless campaigning, Mr. Berlin has brawn aplenty. For the past several months, he's spent two days a week and every weekend walking through Frederick's streets and subdivisions, knocking on doors to talk with city residents. He's been to over 8,500 houses, apartments and condominiums so far.

When he's not out pounding the pavement, Mr. Berlin is at Neighborhood Advisory Council meetings, listening to what citizens have to say. He's been to over 40 NAC meetings since March. Community policing, code enforcement, historic district issues, trash cleanup - Mr. Berlin hears what citizens have to say about it all. In these meetings, he spends a lot of time getting acquainted with the everyday details of city government.

In the past, Frederick has had aldermen with good ideas, but not much stomach for the hard work of implementing them. The city has also had aldermen with a limited vision but a strong work ethic. Mr. Berlin appears to combine the two: good new ideas that address the city's problems, and the capacity to work hard enough to implement them.



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