Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:18 AM
Published on: Thursday, January 06, 2011
By Brian J. Karem
I voted for you. I feel I should get that off my chest right away, and tell you in the same sentence I still love you as a county official.
But I’m troubled and concerned about the way things are being handled in the county.
I’m upset about property taxes and speed cameras and red light cameras. I’m concerned that you have been quoted saying that we who live in the county need to tighten our belts when we in the county think the county government should do the same.
I am concerned that you still have a private security detail when you could save the county some money by dismissing it.
I am concerned that we have an entire county bureaucracy spending oodles of taxpayer money that does nothing more than tell local groups when they can use school and park fields and gyms.
But mostly I’m concerned about the continuing acrimony between you and members of the county council regarding the recent Ambulance Fee referendum.
Your letter to Phil Andrews seemed unnecessarily mean-spirited and further gives some the idea there are serious problems in the county.
In your letter you reference to Phil Andrews as a failure. “ . . . Your failure to take responsibility or leadership in providing alternatives to make up for the deficit caused by your successful effort to eliminate the County’s ambulance reimbursement program . . .” gives the appearance of sour grapes. Phil is not a failure. He’s a very good councilman –whether you agree or disagree with him.
There is so much that is cause for concern here. The money saved by the ambulance fee was negligible. The energy devoted to it was not. The appearance was that far from educating the electorate as you claim in your letter, you tried to pressure the electorate into passing something we didn’t want. Further, when you say having uniformed firefighters at polling places “did not preclude them from responding to calls for service,” completely misses the point.
Few, if any citizens believed firefighters wouldn’t make a call or put lives in jeopardy by being at polling places, rather it was the appearance of strong-arming the electorate into voting for something we didn’t want that was the primary concern. You know this. When you sense a move made can take on the appearance of impropriety, best tread lightly.
Further, your office at first denied this newspaper’s request to provide us with information we requested regarding how much money the county spent supporting this referendum. Though requested in November, we were told the information would not be available before the beginning of the year because you didn’t have people who would be able to fulfill a Freedom of Information Request in the timely fashion required by law. Then we received the request this week, but were told it was really sent back in December, but unfortunately to an address this paper hasn’t had in about four years. Curiously all other correspondence has made it to the current address, so the claim rings hollow – akin to my son saying he turned in his homework, but the dog ate it.
Your letter to Phil Andrews also seems bent on “rehashing issues that have been put to rest by the voters,” while at the same time accusing Andrews of the same.
I applaud you for your stance, taken in this letter, of saying “I will not propose raising taxes,” to meet the budget shortfall, but do not agree that the referendum represented a “significant impact,” on the budget.
In truth the amount was small compared to the overall budget. The problem it seems is that you and the council are still sore over this issue. Your letter belies the fact that you are not happy with a county councilman questioning how much the county spent in trying to defend this referendum. Your defense of this issue also belies the fact that many people in the county saw the defense of that referendum as strong-armed tactics.
Surely you understand this. The need for a logical, dispassionate look at the budget has never been greater. We all know how frustrating it is not having the money to pay the bills. But letters with such vitriol seem counterproductive and beneath you.
The County needs Ike Leggett, Phil Andrews and the rest of the council working together in harmony. We live indeed in perilous times and it seems cool heads and strong countenance should prevail. I wish you the best of luck in solving this dilemma.
Posted By: JJ On: 1/18/2011
Title: What did you expect?
They also have a department with substantial resources solely dedicated to spinning the media and the public (basically incumbent protection). So why should the ambulance fee thing surprise you at all?
Posted By: Ginny Gong On: 1/13/2011
Title: Response from MoCo Govt Drt of Community Use of Public Facilities
I hope that other parts of your recent article were more fully researched. I am writing to correct your perception regarding the “county bureaucracy spending oodles of taxpayer money that does nothing more than tell local groups when they can use school and park fields and gyms.” As an enterprise fund, the County’s Office of Community Use of Public Facilities does not receive any tax dollars. Rather, the operation is fully self-supporting and returns approximately 70% of revenues generated to the school system. Our mission is to ensure that all community groups and individuals have equal and affordable access to the County’s approximate 550 public facilities, that community users respect the facilities they use, that any problems among users or between users and staff of the facilities are effectively managed, that use is appropriately scheduled so that users don’t arrive at a facility only to be locked out or learn that another group is already in place, and that users who inappropriately use and/or damage public facilities are held accountable. We manage more than 325,000 bookings, serve more than 6,000 user groups (such as yours), and schedule more than 750,000 hours of use in a variety of venues.
Ginny Gong, Director
Community Use of Public Facilities
Montgomery County Government
Posted By: E.Echols- Burrell . Silver Spring , Md Parent , Health Care Professional, Entreprenuer On: 1/12/2011
Title: Concerns for Montgomery County
Nice commentary. Many good points. There are many needs of of county..I would venture to say that many are important .and a tough decision for Mr. Leggett.
My guess many are necessary to support our county.
Although important, Politics will play it's part in the demise of some programs.
I hope that the scissors will spare those that are sensibly deemed
essential, and pause those that are cosmetic or frivilous.. Those that donot
add to the basic necessities of economic life and living. We know that taxes are necessary to keep our society flowing..
We hear a lot about taxes..that are critical for survival of homeowners..and
public commodities such as the schools.. But what about the priceless individuals we are teaching in our schools and raising in our homes.. " Our Children "
There is not enough said about the compromise of their education !
The survival of some of OUR most important LINE ITEMS ...
PRICELESS INVESTMENTS with THE RICHEST returns are at Stake....!
OUR CHILDREN, THEIR EDUCATION and GOOD TEACHERS..
We must maintain criticial key elements within our schools
to support Our Education System. One that many of us benefited from.
Raise not only the Roof ..but the taxes if it is the last resort to maintain our
schools and Our children's preparation for the Competitive Work World.
Can we say we are preparing them to take over " the torch " and run with it.?
in light such a demanding , competitive , complex future..
We are off the page with our Priorities ..
It is not just about providing a good education , which according to recent National study, Maryland rank number One. It is about maintaining it..!
Why would we want anything less for our Children and our Heirs..
Thank You Dr. Weast and Team. Special Jolt to the Teachers !
Hats of to the Govenor O'Malley and administration also.
Our generation is to be at the mercy of these individuals who who really depend
on us to fight for their causes and protect their survival and futuristic well being. Our children and grandchildren are inherently next inline to take care of us..
and Our Estates . All the things we have worked tireless for..and tried to maintain.
Will they be ready to run with the Ball. ?
It is about supporting our Children, teachers, schools and all that
deem necessary to keep them viable and working within the standard..
As one Unknown author quoted.. ' For if we think the price of education is expensive.. Try ignorance.. "
For those of us who benefited from a formal education....
We need to rise to the occasion and get on the " Squeeky wheel " ..
We not only Owe it to Our CHILDREN, OUR GRANDCHILDREN,
but to Our selves to be taken care of by Children who can survive
in an advanced , hi- tech, modernistic society and in the Future .
To say openly .. We are All At the mercy of God..
Only God knows ... our Future.
I pray that all Know
Who Holds ...the Future...
Posted By: Ron On: 1/11/2011
Title: You've Got Noone to Blame but yourself
What difference does it make if you are 'troubled and concerned' if he knows you won't change your vote over it? Ike is free to do whatever he wants, be as arrogant as he wants, even take actions that strip the People of important rights like the right to petition for referendum, and he knows he personally has absolutely nothing to fear from it. Now he is safe for 4 years and unless you have the resources to sue, resources to match the county's taxpayer funded resources, there is nothing citizens can do but "be angry". Ike is not unique in this, it is common in all the one-party-rule parts of the state.
BTW I've sent MPIA requests to several local governments in the state over the last year regarding a matter of concern to me, and I would say at least half of the responses were either 'a day late and a dollar short' or the towns simply refused to respond at all. Your experience is just par for the course if one is requesting info they really do not want to release. The state's open records laws need to be strengthened to give them some teeth.
Posted By: Flambe On: 1/10/2011
Title: Thoughtful Letter!
Mr. Karem: It's nice to read an intelligently thought out and presented piece which as the founding fathers intended, puts forth citizen opinion without fear of retribution.
Unfortunately, what we have to fear now is elected officials ignoring the wishes of the population and "doing whatever it takes" instead to get re-elected.
Contrary to Mr. TO'd American - I think elected officials ARE intelligent, just in an "I can figure out how to not take ANY responsibility" kind of way.
It is sickening.
And to the guy who urges us to turn back time and vote for Rosenfeld - maybe next time - but if there's a politician out there who can not get sucked into the "sell-out" game...let us know!
Posted By: Empty Pockets On: 1/10/2011
Title: No Change Coming Here
I do not think MoCo will change its way of doing things. This is a left wing, pro-liberal democrat, pro-union, pro-illlegal immigrant, pro-big government county. If you do not like this then move somewhere else. Do not stay here thinking it will change as you will almost certainly be disappointed.
Posted By: Jo On: 1/9/2011
Title: Hey t-o'd american
Don't wait for your family to find you a place in Europe for you to live, start the process yourself and move!! You have a lot of nerve describing someone as having an IQ of less than 120 in a message that could have been better written by my 12 yo grand daughter.
Best of luck with your new life in Paris. Now go finish your GED.
Posted By: anony On: 1/7/2011
In a perfect world Doug Rosenfeld should have won. How many ridiculous, poorly thought out, self-serving actions does Ike Leggett need to make before county residents wake up? Well, here we go again. You shall know them by their fruits - apparently no one has paid attention to Leggett's fruits. He wants it his way whether the voters want it or not. Leggett doesn't work with others. Don't expect him to start now. Maybe next time you might want to look at who is the most trustworthy and qualified, and not simply who has a "D" in front of their name.
Posted By: Richard Billig On: 1/7/2011
Title: Yes, the over Spending Needs to Stop
Leggett needs to bust the balls of the unions, starting with the Teacher's Union, if the county ever hopes to reign in spending. Otherwise, they're doomed to go bankrupt after Ike's term ends and he's enjoying retirement in some sunny place outside Montgomery County.
Posted By: Barb On: 1/7/2011
Title: Spot On!
You go guy! I'd like to see the Gov't work smart and just provide what the Citizens need, no more no less.
Posted By: A.J Reed On: 1/7/2011
Title: Concerned Citizen
I applaud you Mr. Karem , for speaking out and being a voice of reason for the citizens of Montgomery County.
Posted By: t-o'd american On: 1/7/2011
Title: Dear Ike Legget
He has an IQ lower than 120, unfortunately like most of the other people who work in government. One thing that concerns me this morning is how the state (I know, your article is focusing on Ike legget of the County and has nothing to do with the State, but the state is broke too) now spends money on "pretreating" the roads for snow that doesnt come, and has less than even a 30% chance of coming. What a damn waste of money. I didn't even read you entire article because when citizens talk about things and bring up issues, it doesn't matter. It doesnt matter because the people running government are not intelligent and can't think of, or implement new ways of doing "government". So I'm done talking too. Just and fyi though, I am also fed up with cops, red light cameras, speed cameras, and getting my pocket pinched for what feels like every time I take a step or a breath. I'm pretty sick of this country and this area in particular. If I had family anywhere in Europe, there is no doubt I would pack up my familiy and move back to where my white a s came from, from who knows how long ago.
Posted By: You should have voted for Rosenfeld On: 1/6/2011
You voted for Ike??? IDIOT!
Posted By: You Ike Voting Fool!!! On: 1/6/2011
You voted for Ike now live with it! Doug Rosenfeld was what the county needed!