Let us govern our own county

February 10, 2008|By BRAD BARKER

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Del. Chris Shank's recent letter to the editor. One thing that I keep hearing about the charter is the misleading statement that the charter form of government will allow our elected officials to raise taxes. This is the equivalent statement of saying that if you vote for the charter, you will have to pump your own gas, shop for groceries and dial the phone.

Nothing is changing with regard to taxes.

The county commissioners currently have the ability to raise and lower taxes that have already been approved by the legislature in Annapolis. Under the charter, county officials will have the ability to raise and lower taxes that have already been approved by the legislature in Annapolis. Any attempt to cloud that issue is political double-speak and I respectfully ask Shank to stop. Speak to the voters of Washington County as intelligent adults, don't try to trick us by hiding the issues.


I believe that advocates of home rule have made the case for change, contrary to Shank's assertions. Right now, decisions for Washington County are made by people who live in other counties. I needed to be honest with myself here.

How many times am I going to attend a meeting in Annapolis versus how many will I attend in Washington County? I see one commissioner at least once a week; how often do you see your delegates around the county? If you don't see the commissioners often enough, call them and invite them to your group, you would be surprised at how often they come, with a little notice.

Shank says "The majority of these requests have become law with little fanfare or interference." What he doesn't talk about is the minority of those requests. We are a Republican county in a Democratic state. Right now, it would only take our delegation voting the "wrong way" on a bill for the Democratic counties to bring our county government to a standstill. Has it happened? Not yet, according to Shank. Will it happen? Hopefully not. Can it happen? Yes, and I don't like that.

Issues are becoming more contentious statewide. Things like the death penalty, higher taxes, spending being targeted for counties to the east, etc., are creating a further divide between the Democratic counties and Western Maryland. I want to have control of deciding on the cost of a dog license here in this county.

Right now, to create a hunting area on county property, we have to ask Annapolis for permission. How many hunters do you think there are in Montgomery County? Do you think they will understand our issues or use it to their advantage to show their voters how liberal they are?

Shank says that "Home rule counties often put in more bills than commissioner counties." I wanted to verify this information, but there was no information given. Please Delegate Shank, we are an intelligent voting base, we can handle the numbers.

One thing that I haven't heard Shank mention is that he is is actually in favor of home rule. He has publicly stated that he is in favor of a charter form of government, but one with a county executive. I find it ironic that he never talks about this in his letters, but he does talk about "big government." Shank actually favors a form of charter rule that adds more positions to the government.

And this brings up what I see is the main point. Opponents of charter rule want you to vote it down because it isn't perfect. Nothing is perfect. This charter was a compromise formed after months of hard work by interested parties from around the county, including people who oppose a charter. It is supported by Gov. Robert Ehrlich and by countless members of the community who live here, work here and want to see the best for our county. Please look at the names of the people who support this charter.

I bet you will find many of your co-workers, church members, coaches, bankers and, most importantly, your friends who support the charter. Instead of listening to someone that has an agenda to keep people happy in Annapolis, talk to the people who matter the most.

No matter what your opinion is, please get out and vote on Feb. 12. The worst thing you can do in a democracy is to have an opinion, never state it publicly and then not back it up by going to the polls.

Brad Barker


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