Frederick County is a mysterious place this week!

I bet we can solve this in 30 minutes or less!
I bet we can solve this in 30 minutes or less!

Quite the intrigue here in Frederick this week! First we had Kirby’s declarations of unconstitutionality concerning his sad, lost county contracts. Now, at last night’s joint BOE meeting, we learned that Kirby has a mysterious developer all ready to finance one of the two needed county elementary schools.

Why the mystery you may be asking? Well, just shut up!!! Kirby has his reasons!!! He won’t tell us, but why should he? It couldn’t be because there are some pretty outlandish conditions associated with this, could it?

What we learned from watching, and today’s FNP articleis that this all has the smell of back door school privatization. Not only would this school be leased back to the county, which has been been a bad deal throughout the land…Well, just look:

 Cost savings may also come from custodial and maintenance operations being handled by the private sector, the councilmen said.

So here we go again! Remember all this privatization crap when Blaine came into office? Now, Tony and Kirby invite it to rear it’s ugly head once again.  Here’s a great quote from an NEA analysis on privatizing school support services:

There is less accountability to the residents of a school district by their elected representatives when vital services are taken over by private contractors. Contractors tend to focus on performing only the tasks contained in their work descriptions, which is understandable because they are hired only to perform specific narrowly defined jobs.

By contrast, school district employees tend to view themselves as a vital part of the system of education, and provide numerous “intangibles” that enhance the quality of their work and the educational experience of children in school.

School district employees routinely perform a range of tasks that are not typically thought of as being in their official job descriptions but that are vitally important in providing a high quality education for children. [i] The great majority of educational support workers live in the school district where they are employed, and they feel responsible to their neighbors for the quality of their work.

Most private contractors base their sales pitch on the premise that they can provide the same or greater service at lower cost

Here’s the full NEA article and a great point sheet about the risks involved in such an endeavor.

Kirby and Tony cannot treat the school system as they do their contracting and excavating  businesses. It’s not the same on any level. Our children are not commodities that can be moved around on a spreadsheet. They are unique human beings  with a variety of talents and needs. And quite frankly, if we don’t get this part of their lives right and educate them properly, then we as a society will feel the repercussions for years to come. We must not allow the promise of a badly needed school lead us down a path of high costs, poor services and low wages. For this low wage, low cost thinking that has led to the elimination of many middle class jobs in this country.

We do need good discussion and solutions as to how to finance not only these two schools, but schools that will be needed down the road. It will have to be a combination of private and public funds and it must be a priority. It should not be a back door dismantling of our public education system all in the guise of saving money. We cannot let these gentlemen get away with that!

As for who the developer is, we really have no idea. But that is not going to stop us from speculating wildly and naming Roy Stanley. Should we start a pool?

 

Billy explains his abstentions-still makes no sense.

Come on Cricket give the liar a break!
Come on Cricket give the liar a break!

What must be going through Councilman Shreve’s brain when he sits at his computer to pen his excuses for the Woodsboro times? Does he really expect anyone to relate to this stream of consciousness b.s. ? I mean really folks, does he really think we are this dumb?  Let us start with excuso numero uno:

December, 12 months in office. #1 duty of the County Council is to provide budget oversight. So far, after 12 months, we still have not hired a Budget Director. I have protested this repeatedly by abstaining on all budget related votes, over 60 times this year. (I refuse to do hunger strikes : )

Ha ha! As if Billy’s not going to eat for you jerks!!! So, why did he vote “yes” for Trout Run? And why vote against the minutes? Because it’s all a very convenient bunch of crap. Billy must have been hungry when he wrote this because there’s this:

I’m not a big government guy and don’t propose hiring employees just to have them, but if you are running a restaurant, you need a cook, dishwasher, and server. The Council inherited a $550 million dollar budget and a population of 240,000. An entity this size requires staff to handle the day to day operations on day one! We aren’t running a coffee shop; we need employees.

But you just said a coffee house/restaurants need employees. Wouldn’t the better analogy be: like a coffee shop, we need an adequate number of employees to make sure things run smoothly. OHH OHH! 25 word job-posting digression time:

Billy’s Speech Writer

Must be able to take endless non sequiturs and unrelated analogies and translate them into standard English. Overtime a must!

Any hoo! Back to the article. There’s lots and lots of complaining about Mike Gastley, and how they had to put all the numbers into Kirby’s work budget software (what the what). And they still, even though they were on the BOCC for four years, weren’t able to make heads of tails of it all. What we find most interesting about this whole written catastrophe is what Billy leaves out. He omits the name of the very person that Billy and Kirby put forth. A person who not only vacations with one Councilmember, and tailgates with another, but one who is living with the very person who lost to Jan! Look at his complaint about Mr. Gastley:

How can we believe he will support the Council and not the County Executive? Is this the right person to provide checks and balances to the County Executive? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Now, can we believe that this person that Billy and Kirby put forth will provide the the appropriate support to ALL of the members of the county council? That this person would also, without bias, take information from the County Executive’s office and relay that to the council?  I think we can be safe to say: NOOOOOOOOO! Maybe–just maybe–Billy would have just a shred of credibility if he had not put this name forward. But hey, since when has Billy ever worried about that?

Tony’s Brave New World. No, wait this sucks!

Why do we keep having to talk about this ?
Why do we keep having to talk about this ?

In this morning’s Frederick News Post we have more evidence of just how important the teaching of history is in our schools. Here’s what County Council member Tony Chmelik has to say about Maryland’s prevailing wage:

Councilman Tony Chmelik said he wants to reverse that change altogether. He said the change was a “political boondoggle” meant to please labor unions.

Deep breaths! Count to 10! Repeat! Seriously folks, if one is not able to see how the labor movement has benefited this country we really, really question that person’s ability to  govern our fair county.  This whole Republican attack against the labor movement and fair wages is so reminiscent of how rich plantation owners manipulated the poor whites of the South into supporting a system that was against their own economic interests. I think it’s time for a nice Upton Sinclair quote from his book, “The Jungle” about conditions in the meat packing plants in Chicago:

Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances immorality was exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it was under the system of chattel slavery. Things that were quite unspeakable went on there in the packing houses all the time, and were taken for granted by everybody; only they did not show, as in the old slavery times, because there was no difference in color between master and slave.

Sound even a little bit familiar to some issues we may be having today? So please Mr. Chmelik do go on about how giving people a living wage is a boondoggle. Please feed us more rhetoric about how labor unions are ruining this country and how rolling back the prevailing wage will solve all our school construction woes.

There couldn't be any reason to set wages could there? Won't corporations just do the right thing on their own?
There couldn’t be any reason to set wages could there? Won’t corporations just do the right thing on their own?

We like our readers to be informed so we want to talk a little about the prevailing wage here in Maryland. It was first enacted in 1945. Yes, that’s right 1945. It’s not a new thing at all. What does change is the numbers. The State now requires that if a public project costs more than $500,000 and they contribute more than 25% of the costs, the county must pay the prevailing wage. In 1999, Prince Georges County asked Mark J. Prus, Associate Professor of Economics at SUNY Cortland to do a cost analysis of the prevailing wage and school construction costs. Read  the whole study here, and let us highlight some main points. First of all, why historically do states (Maryland is not the only one) enact prevailing wage laws?:

Prevailing wage laws emerged from a concern that cutthroat competition over wages in construction would lead the industry down a low-wage, low-skill development path. This was said to put the quality of construction at risk and lead to an itinerant, footloose, low-wage construction labor force. Poor construction workers would make poor neighbors and potential burdens on the community. Reasonably paid construction workers, on the other hand, held out the possibility of being solid neighbors, good citizens and productive members of the community. Government, by the operation of prevailing wage laws, was supposed to get out of the business of cutting government costs by cutting the wages of its citizens. Whatever labor standards had been established, whatever wages prevailed in a local community; that is what the law said government should pay on public works.

Hmm, so the goal is to make sure that good work is done, people are skilled and are paid enough to become economic participants in the community in which they live. The horror! So what was the conclusion of this analysis? (We know it’s an older study, but  it’s still relevant):

A “here-and-there” linear regression model was developed to estimate the effect of prevailing wage regulations on total construction costs for schools, controlling for other factors. This model controlled for the type of school, the size of the project, and building characteristics. It also controlled for general differences in construction costs between states with and without prevailing wage laws and general differences between the cost of public and private construction (whether or not done under prevailing wage regulations). Controlling for these factors, this model could find no statistically significant impact on total construction costs due to prevailing wage requirements.

In comparison with states that did not have these laws, there was no statistical  difference. Now, in the study, it did show that there was an increase for high schools as compared to elementary and middle, mostly because they are bigger and more complicated structures and therefore take longer to build.

We are quite aware that Frederick High’s construction costs are well over the estimate. And yes, some of that cost is due to the fact that in the original estimate this wage increase was not factored in. But that is not a reason to fight the prevailing wage law. We need to have the governor release our funds. And perhaps we need more help from the State in general when it comes to school construction. The answer does not lie in a cheap labor force. It never does.

We will leave you with this nice poster that we got from our Republican Rebel friends:

What the hell happened?
What the hell happened?

 

The water vapors are weighing the council down

mzv3a

I do declare the humidity must be affecting some members of our esteemed county council. Tis the time of year when it is common to fall out from the stickiness that surrounds us like mud on a hog. Mr. Shreve in particular was a tad testier than usual. Makes us want to pull him under the shade of an old Magnolia that our great grand pappy planted back in 1907 and give him a good talking to. Alas, what difference would it really make?

Our first point of bewilderment with Mr. Shreve is this:

Billy

Why every week, before the pledge, does he do this? And notice he’s the only one. Does he not want to face the public? Does he worship at the altar of the American flag? What in a donkey’s backside is the meaning of this?

Now particular to this week, Billy goes right in for the no when voting on whether or not to approve the consent agenda. On the consent agenda this week were various budget transfers for departments such as: The Child Advocacy Center, Agricultural Preservation, Housing and Community Services, Planning and Development, Fire and Rescue and Community Development. His particular beef, from what we could tell since we cannot fathom getting in that head of his, was he was really bitter about the council not approving Trout Run and still not getting his budget liaison. Logic of course dictates that he then mess with everyone else’s budget. Thankfully, Billy has no one else on board with his interesting style of governance and all budget transfers were passed 6-1.

Moving on to the approval of minutes for the last three meetings. A unanimous vote! Still Billy cannot bring himself to say Aye. Must be that oppositional disorder rearing its ugly head again. A note to be made about Kirby. He did not seem to want to turn on his microphone this evening. We later discover it’s working just fine. But through all the votes we can barely hear his little “aye”. What’s up with that?

On to everyone’s favorite commission: Ethics. A motion is put forth to appoint four new members. Of course Billy isn’t going to let this go without making some kind of declaration. “It’s sad that 3 of the 5 members of the ethics commission resigned and we are in this position.” Really, really sad.

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6-1 approved! Even Kirby. Billy seems to be losing all his playmates. On to Jessica and M.C.’s bill to repeal the English only ordinance. We heard some nonsense earlier in the week about Billy going on WFMD and saying this:

“You either have to stay all English or not all English. And as soon as you open up yourself, you have to provide absolutely everything.  If you have someone from the jungle of Brazil from some tribe of 20 people, and they come in and want a document translated, you have to be able to translate it for them.”

With great poise Councilwoman Fitzwater introduced the bill and we know, just know he’s going to say something and of course he does! He insisted that we don’t have to throw out old Blainey boy’s ordinance, we can just modify it. Jessica then snaps at him (Oh the humidity, but how can we blame her? I mean really.). If you have something in writing, she quipped, you can share it with me. Right now all we are doing is reading the bill. Properly chastised he shuts the microphone down.

The next order of business is something we have wanted to see happen for quite sometime. We here at the Local Yokel love our festivals. The 4th of July, In the Streets, special events at Rose Hill Manor count us in! What we do not love is seeing the mountains of trash that are full of recyclables. Our fair State passed a law requiring that all counties pass ordinances that require event organizers, within certain parameters, to provide recycling. Yay!!! Now keep in mind THIS HAS TO HAPPEN! It is a State law and Frederick County must comply. The Department of Solid Waste Management presented a lot of information to the council. And they underlined the fact that THIS HAS TO HAPPEN. Well, looky over to the left, who is going to make this difficult? That’s right Billy. He tries to make the poor solid waste people give him an estimate as to how much recyclables would be generated at a picnic or a soccer tournament. And these poor souls. Silence falls and then a response of, “There is really no way we can estimate that.” He then wants to know what private companies charge to haul this stuff away. They don’t know. His point, I suppose, is that he thinks this will put an unfair burden on people. But hey, this isn’t for little outings. It’s for events that are expecting over 200 people and take place on public property. Why can’t this man see the big picture on this or anything else for that matter? Thankfully passed 6-1.

Next oddity on the agenda. Kirby wants a lobbyist. What for? To send to Annapolis, because according to him we are missing out on millions of dollars that are either sitting in some secret bunker or being distributed to other counties. Bud rightfully asks if this is not the job of our elected delegates and state senators. Aren’t they not the ones elected to bring back money to the county? And if Kirby’s contention, for which he has no proof, is correct, then we have a problem. It was agreed that they would meet with the delegation to see if they were in fact missing out on this secret stash of cash.

It was within this conversation that our good buddy Bud almost gave us a fainting spell. He called Kirby Congressman Delauter! And oh my stars do not even joke about such a thing Bud! He quickly and quite loudly added: “Sorry about that”! Wouldn’t we all be sorry indeed?

Hey folks our county is in The Washington Post! Oh wait, it’s about Kirby. :(

Who is responsible for Frederick County government's latest spiral of shame?
Who is responsible for Frederick County government’s latest spiral of shame?

We have to wonder if Kirby and Billy set up a schedule of which one of them is going to embarrass the county each week. On Sunday afternoons do they sit down with their Champibbles and Fireball shots and decide whose turn it is? Can you picture it? We certainly can:

Kirby:” Well, Buddy you did go on the radio and claim that everyone in the county calls you when their loved ones have a drug problem.”

Billy: “True enough, but let’s not forget you submitted an unbalanced budget to the dictator in hopes that she would consider it.”

Kirby: “Yeah, that was a doozy, but you’ve refused to vote on budget issues or follow Robert’s Rules of Orders.”

Billy: “True that! But I can’t think of anything new to do this week, so can you help a brother out?”

Kirby: “10-4. I’ll think of something good. Why do you think Bud and Tony don’t attend our little get togethers”?

So Kirby it was. And we all know the story of the ethics decision, the WFMD interview and of course the contentious council meetings. But guess what?! Now everyone else does as well! This morning The Washington Post ran a little story about our most esteemed council man’s latest behavior. A paper with a circulation of over 400,000 and a website with over 50 million readers. GREAT!

He refused to be interviewed for said piece but we did get this nice little quote.

“I haven’t bid county work in four years, but I think I should have that option like everyone else,” Delauter said.

And now we are going to have to read this book:

We know how you feel little girl!
We know how you feel little girl!

How can we keep doing this week after week? Are Kirby and Billy ever going to get it together? Kirby brought us all a little bit of infamy back in January with his “suing the newspaper for using my name antics” and we really hoped he learned to tone it down. But no, now he’s a celebrity and not in a good way. Therefore, everything he does is going to be considered newsworthy. So until he’s finally taken his leave of the council we suspect we are going to have many more national embarrassments to endure. So Salut Billy and Kirby, this one’s for you!

Gets yours at boozingear.com
Gets yours at boozingear.com

Last night’s council meeting: the good, the bad, the UGLY

The Good

First things first, in the spirit of Cannes, the red carpet looks. Jerry looking professorial in a good way with his jacket and tie, Jessica in a delightful chartreuse, and MC with a classic scarf (bold neckwear a salute to her rapper image). Bud is elegant as always, with pinstripes in his suit. Tony is in “Friday at the office” wear, with a short sleeve plaid button up. He and Kirby forgot their county pins. It happens. Plus, Kirby can’t pin stuff on that Under Armour fabric. It leaves holes, but that’s okay since Billy wore an appliquéd school uniform with a truly enormous county seal to make up for it. A smart nod to his role as an elected official (which may fail when juxtaposed with the fact that he never acts like one). Nobody knows what they’re wearing from the waist down. Maybe bare feet like everybody else. ?

Do all the council members have these official looking outfits? Serious question.
Do all the council members have these official looking outfits? Serious question.

As an added bonus, things start with a public comment from a speaker wearing a Delauter campaign shirt. Wonder what he’s gonna say. haaaaaaa

The…Undecided

We’re out to lunch on Tony Chmelik. Quality acting from him as he belabors questions about taxes that don’t increase but do. He is perfectly credible in his portrayal of a person who has never paid taxes and has no idea what happens when property assessments increase (or when they don’t). He seems fit for higher office, with his doe-eyed looks and even-tempered behavior. Which is sort of scary to start thinking, because we do not drink the tea here.

The Bad

There were numerous opportunities for Bud and the Democrats (great band name) to say some version of, “We’ve already covered all of this, and we’re not going to talk about it anymore.” To explain the logical fallacy of comparing the teachers to Kirby’s business, again. To explain that taxes pay for stuff we need, and we need 4 new deputies. That’s when we remembered Sheriff Jenkins rolled along in some earlier meeting with his “cream rises to the top” thinking and complained that he can’t afford quality, and Bud also noted that such logic applies to the school system as well.

*duh

We had to fortify with a glass of Sledgehammer before even clicking on the archives. If we had come up with a drinking game for this meeting, everyone playing would have died of alcohol poisoning. The only saving grace is that hardly anyone in the county even pays attention to this stuff, so they’d all be fine. Maybe that part should be demoted to the ugly section.

The Ugly

Now there’s going to be crazy infighting amongst your local yokel writers over who loves Bud the most, because he pulled out a most brilliant thing. He said, “You get what you pay for.” Yes he did. And we swooned.

The UGLY

Kirby started off with a tantrum and called Bud a chickenshit. By the end of the meeting he looked like he was going to explode again. Swiveling back and forth in his chair, with his elbows sticking out from behind his head.

Who looks like a punk? Huh.
Who looks like a punk? Huh.

The worst of it all is that Billy and Kirby treated the council meeting the same way they treat going on WFMD. They wasted time, they ranted and raved. They spent considerable energy pretending that they had some real ideas about the budget, but we watched that, and it was like a kindergartener doing art work. You don’t put that stuff in the Smithsonian. Their behavior is ridiculous.

Billy Shreve…Take Three!

For a few days it had been quiet, almost too quiet in the land of Billy Shreve. But as a mother of young children surely knows, when it’s quiet there’s trouble a brewin’.

Again? Seriously, again?
Again? Seriously, again?

 

So this quiet time was spent “updating the facts”. Good Poseidon of the Sea that can’t be good can it?!

 

Stop going on the radio Billy! Just stop it!
Stop going on the radio Billy! Just stop it!

No it was not. And oh how we apologize to Bob Miller for our critique of his morning show. Because we did not know (and wished we still did not) of the horror that awaited us on the afternoon program with Tim May. So many apologies Bob. As an example of the extreme sacrifice we go through for you let us tell you a story. A nice caller pointed out that laws and contracts get changed all the time. When people’s opinion of a matter change or a new administration comes in it isn’t unusual for changes to be made. Well this poor nice caller did not realize that he committed the high crime of blasphemy with what seemed to us perfectly rational arguments.  But, thankfully Private Eye/Man of the Cloth Tim May was there to point it out. Because dear caller you know what law can never been changed? THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!! BAM! Take that you ignorant fool, argument over.

So to continue, we come in at the 3rd hour, because as much as we love you dear readers, there is only so much in terms of our sanity that we are willing to sacrifice. At the beginning of this hour we are welcomed by the very persistant voice of our friend Mary. Mary, leader of the “How could you Bud Otis?” brigade had some very reasonable remarks about Jan. It’s too much b.s. for us to wade through on a Friday. But she did leave us with some good sound bites. Jan’s governance so far has been “hypocrisy in action” and damnit “Facts Matter”! Well thankfully that was over quickly and on comes Billy.

Now, from the looks of his Facebook status it seemed as though we were going to get some new information. But looks are often deceiving. Because all we heard was the same old, same old that we heard on the last two radio appearances. (See #1 and #2 here) He was asked why the CEO calls him instead of Jan. The best answer Billy can give is that Jan won’t reach out to him. Why she should have to do this is beyond us. But he then goes on to say that he and Kirby were in on the deal from the beginning so he feels more comfortable calling them.  Which one is it?

We pointed out in an earlier post that the way the Continuing Care agreement was crafted it was very easy for Aurora to get out of treating future indigent patients. Billy as much admitted to this, saying that the county would have to pay the full rate. While he did not specify exact dollars we can only assume the full rate is a shitload of money. Billy did leave us with a couple of thoughts on the subject of Aurora. First of all, he didn’t start all this hoopla because CEO Snow called him (a departure from his earlier statements) it’s because the poor residents have been calling him personally worried about their future. Man, to be Billy’s phone. How does it not ring all day and all night? But the piece de resistance that Billy had to say about the nursing home is this: Aurora is like Disney World and the county’s is like a prison.  That’s right folks, it’s all sunshine and cotton candy up in Aurora’s house. But the county run home, you might as well be in Alcatraz.

 

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Then we get to talks of the budget and oh how cute, nobody can remember Bud Otis’ name. These guys are hilarious. Billy starts off by saying that the budget process was the worst process he had ever been involved in. The worst! He wants more positions and he’s still whining about not getting his meeting with the budget officer. But it’s just the same old same old we’ve heard from the past few weeks. We had some glimmer of hope we would hear something new. Right before the last break Billy was warned that he was going to be asked why he can’t be civil. But of course, they never came back to this point. Because Blaine called in and repeated the same exact lines he said on last week’s  Bob Miller’s show.

So there you have it folks. Same old same old. The only updated facts was that Billy only acts in the interest of the old, poor patients of Aurora. Not CEO Snow, whom apparently has Billy’s direct line. Why he keeps torturing us with these radio appearances we cannot guess. But we’ll be here to listen so you don’t have to.