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As Long as We Remember...

January 9, 2003

Thinking Outside The Box

Alan Imhoff

A new beginning for a new era, or just the same old problems wrapped up in a different package. Frederick County continues on its roll to become the leading bastion of the Grand Old Party here in Maryland, as Republicans take flight from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties joining the already existing party members from among the "first families."

Our county commissioners continue with a GOP majority and our delegation, yet again, overwhelmingly is of the Republican persuasion. When you add the recent turnover in the governor’s mansion and the impressive control of Congress to that of the White House, scenes of the "New Deal" come to mind. The question is, will Republican control really make any difference?

The leaders of Congress will be wrapped up in the undeclared War on Iraq for months or years to come, add in the boosterism for the War on Terror and it is plain to see that the issues that affect us here in Frederick County could easily get lost in this latest "crusade."

What of things in Annapolis; money, money, money or lack of it, more appropriately. The old "blame game" will roll out once again, focusing the erstwhile efforts of our new delegation on fixing the budget shortfall. This leaves the commissioners to pick up the pieces and try to fix the things that remain broke. Roads, schools, water.

However, my concern is not that it is the Republicans in charge. It is rather the politicians, whether Democrat or Republican. One only has to do a little reading from local newspapers of the past 20 years to see that the issues of today are no different than the issues candidates ran on in 1982. Why is that?

It does not seem to matter whether you are Republican or Democrat or which party is "in control." Not much has really been accomplished to solve the fundamental issues of public works for the community.

A committee of leading citizens in the early 1980’s documented that schools were being built at least a year too late to house the growing number of students. County plans were made in the mid-1980’s to draw water from the Potomac River to help get ahead of the burgeoning population, and congestion on the roads was a big concern, that widening I-270 to 12 lanes near DC would help alleviate. Guess what?

The Potomac River solution is suddenly, after 20 years, the saving grace for the areas water supply, even though the Potomac water flow is influenced by the same factors of drought as our local supplies. With an accelerated school construction program, we still have "overcrowded" schools, with schools still being built at least one year behind when they are needed. As for roads, need I say more?

My purpose in writing for The Tentacle is to start a dialog among county residents fed up with the same old solutions to the same old problems. I intend to write a series of articles on these subjects and begin a process to look at these same old problems in a different light.

My intent is not to say what I suggest are "THE" solutions, but rather look at alternatives in promoting a common sense way things are done. To take some of the "politically correctness" out of decision making and instead have politicians really "think" about new solutions. Once we have decided on a way to solve any one of these issues, we will need a collective will to actually DO something. It will not be easy, quick or painless. Often it involves change from the status quo and, yes, it may even mean paying a little more to get the job done. But if it solves a problem, isn’t it worth it?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more students with smaller class sizes and not have to build another school building for a long time? Wouldn’t it be great if we could design a public transit system that could actually benefit a whole new segment of our population and attract new business as well? Wouldn’t it be great if government could plan utility infrastructure 20 years in advance and stick to that implementation plan to achieve it?

Now is the time to test our new Republican majority to see if they can break the mold of old school politics. Now is the time to see if they can deliver on yet another set of promises made to be "politically correct" or can actually get things done. This does not mean that our Democratic office holders can sit back and wait for the mistakes, it will take everyone working together to finally "get off the dime" and get things solved.

To paraphrase an old saying: "If we always plan the way we have already planned, we will always get what we already have."

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