A Dream Team
Whenever I hear the phrase “Dream Team,” I think of the great 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. It included 10 Hall of Fame players* and three Hall of Fame coaches.** The team itself was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame – that’s how good it was. They won by an average of nearly 44 points a game.
Not once during the Olympics did Head Coach Chuck Daly call a timeout.
So, it was with much amusement that I read about a local “Dream Team” right here in Frederick County. In her March 3 article for The Gazette,*** Katherine Heerbrandt wrote this opening:
“With the addition of Ron Tobin, the Frederick Board of County Commissioners' dream team is complete….
“With (Ron) Tobin (as business development-retention administrator), the executive team is now in place, according to a press release: County Manager Barry Stanton, Assistant County Manager Dave Dunn, and Special Projects Manager Michael Marschner.”
Presumably, the commissioners currently serving can’t accomplish anything without four managers: Mr. Tobin ($89,000/year); Mr. Stanton ($155,000/year); Mr. Dunn ($98,000); Michael Marschner ($71/hour).
Let’s analyze this “Dream Team.” We’ll start with Mr. Marschner. I’ve long been an admirer of his, ever since I ran for office and he shared his time and knowledge with me on the Waste-to-Energy issue. His expertise, intellect, and professionalism are reflections of his strength of character, which he needed in vast amounts with the previous Board of County Commissioners. The mistreatment by then Commissioner Kai Hagen led to Mr. Marschner’s retirement in October 2010. It was our county’s loss, and I, for one, was glad that Mr. Marschner found a place with the current board and will serve our county.
David Dunn became the assistant county manager and worked in Brunswick as its city administrator. Since I don’t live there, I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of how he ran things. He has since been replaced by Rick Weldon, who has already instituted some changes to make Brunswick a more streamlined municipality.
It’s the position of “assistant county manager” that I question. To date, the commissioners have eliminated 126 full-time positions and reduced the government's work force by seven percent. Why add a position that in other divisions has been cut? How is this “less government?” How can the commissioners face employees that they’ve fired?
Then there’s the current county manager, Barry Stanton. By some accounts, he has done what he has been asked to do, and then some. I met him once – nice man. However, the question needs to be asked: is there so much on his plate that he needs an assistant? In these tough fiscal times, how is this doing more with less? Whatever happened to doing “more with less” anyway?
Finally we come to the newest member of this “dream team,” Mr. Tobin. There is some agreement in certain quarters that he worked long hours. Yet wasn’t he the one who, as Frederick City’s executive assistant to Mayor Jeff Holtzinger, accepted an early retirement bonus of approximately $170,000 and was later rehired for $85,123 per year – about $550 less per year than his previous salary. He resigned from his job a year later for health reasons.
The opportunity was there, so he took advantage of it; few can begrudge him that. However, like the position of assistant county manager, why create a position called “Business Development-Retention Administrator?” Why did the commissioners create a redundant position, one that does the same thing that the Office of Economic Development is doing? Will the Office of Economic Development be cut?
So, what about this Frederick County version of the “Dream Team?” No matter the spin, the only position that makes sense is Mr. Marschner’s. The other three members? It’s tough to say that these are necessary in tough economic times, while giving pink slips to so many other county employees.
Somebody has to call a timeout around here….
*The True Dream Team Players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, and Christian Laettner (who beat out Shaquille O'Neal for the final spot on the roster).