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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


November 1, 2012

Charter: Itís Closer to the People

Joan Marie Aquilino

In just a few days, I will either be crying in my beer or raising a glass of champagne. There will be many reasons for both or either; but for me personally and 11 others, it’s all about an Up vote on Charter Home Rule, Question A on your ballot.

 

Either way, I feel a sense of accomplishment because we, The Charter Writing Committee, will have done what we were charged to do and have done it exceedingly well. We took our job seriously and went well beyond anything anyone else has ever done in our outreach and education process.

 

Going in I knew that it would be hard work, but I’m afraid I was a little short-sighted in my thinking. It was hard work and then some. We all knew the education part would be the most difficult, but in my naivety I thought that once we knew what we were doing it would be just a matter of helping others understand it also. I quickly found out that wasn’t the case, I didn’t realize that along with just educating on the charter would we have to face so many remarks that were honestly little less than fear tactics.

 

So, before you go to the polls, I’ll leave you with a few parting thoughts to hopefully aide you in your final decision to support and vote FOR Charter Home Rule for Frederick County. Question A on your ballot is the last item on your ballot.

 

The line that some are touting is that they are for charter just not this charter, is I’d say, disingenuous at best and possibly a fib at worse. Many said before the process even started by action and deed they’d never support this or any other charter we’d write.

 

A Charter Home Rule government is a form of government that can be changed by the will of the voting public, not elected officials. This charter can be anything we want it to be now and into the future. The commissioner form we have now gives us no say other than an election every four years.

 

Then there is the one about the county executive being all big, bad and powerful. That is also incorrect. There is a true balance between the county council members and the executive and nothing will be accomplished without the cooperation of both parts of this equation.

 

The executive can only do what the council allows through legislation. The executive would be cutting off their nose to not involve the council during the budget drafting process because they can, in turn, cut the pet projects or even the executive staff budget. Then what will you have? The council passes the budget bill, not the executive. That’s a fact.

 

The question of voting districts seems to be a battle cry for a few when nothing else works. I personally like districts; the reason being is that it gives all of us an opportunity in a smaller, more comfortable venue to run for office and to serve on a part time basis.

 

Most people can’t take the time to raise the funds needed to run a county-wide race, nor can they give up that much time from their other employment to campaign and then serve. This way you get to have both.

 

The really cool part that I like better than everything is that the district official is held accountable for serving and actually doing the job they were elected to do; there is no one else they can slough their duties off on.

 

Now, when commissioners don’t want to come in, don’t want to make a controversial vote, don’t want to do their homework and know what is going on, they lay low, don’t vote or don’t show up. It doesn’t matter, the county moves on without them. They can say later, oh, I would have done this or that; but bottom line is they didn’t do anything. They abdicated their duties.

 

With single member districts, there isn’t that ability. The person can try, but they will be held accountable by those in their district who will want to know why their councilman weren’t there representing them.

 

I’m all about accountability and people doing their jobs. With districts you can’t hide from your constituents easily. Also, you have the ability to be the voice of your constituents, holding mini-town meetings and keeping them informed on a more local basis. I don’t see a down side.

 

Keep in mind that the power lies in your hands; you will be the most powerful person in the charter form of government. You will vote the elected officials into office. You will be able to hold them accountable because – should they start going down a road that would be dangerous for our county then you have the ability to stop them dead in their tracks with a referendum.

 

So in order of power, it’s you first, the council second and then the executive, who is left to follow through on the council’s final legislation. That person (the executive) will be the predominate face and voice for Frederick County, but that does not relate to their being all powerful and beyond control.

 

100,000 people in Frederick County already live under Charter Home Rule government by virtue that they live in a municipality, proving government closest to the people is the better, more interactive government.

 

Vote For Charter Home Rule and enjoy government closer to you and your control. Bottom line for me is this: Charter Home Rule government gives you a better voice in local government.

 

. . . . .'til next time . . .

 

As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing info@thetentacle.com, or contacting me directly at Joan.Aquilino.Mcintyre@gmail.com.

 



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