by Carmen Amedori
Ethics: an area of study that deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior: a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong.
When Trump is elected, we will have exercised our 10th Amendment and dismantled a tyrannical political system. It is then our responsibility to rebuild the Republic and that starts from the ground up with local offices. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
There is so much going on in our Country today, round and round we go as we try to prioritize where to focus our efforts.
BYP – back yard politics is the place to begin. There are dozens of news stories a week covering national political events, scandals, etc. But it is within our reach to begin at the beginning. Remember, the best government is the one closest to the people. Locally, every day in some small town, city, and county across this nation there are elected officials scheming to take rights away from their citizens Stories like the one below are not mainstream media. Hell, even the small town newspapers don’t cover it. Yet, while these type of elected officials, “public servants” make our skin crawl, we continue to reelect them.
Of the 168,000 residents in Carroll County, Maryland 78 percent are over the age 18 and therefore old enough to vote. This county loves to vote. They appear to be engaged in the process. The party line registration is Democrats 31,797, Republican 59,483, Libertarian 581, Green 271, Other 948, and unaffiliated 21,278.
Carroll County form of Government is five county commissioner. This form of government means there is no separate executive branch. The commissioners are the executive as well as the legislative branch. So every county department reports to them for budget demands. This is unlike a City or Town Mayor and Council. In that form, the Mayor holds executive power.
The census projected the population in bucolic Carroll County to increase only by 0.3% from 2010 to 2015. This is important because it means only attrition changes the voting base. Our favorite 90-something-year-old patriots, those from the Greatest Generation are passing on – no longer available to vote. And their spot is being filled by the millennial who is just turning 18.
Now in many ways the millennial is telling us the status quo is unacceptable. We agree for different reasons.” The millennial favors a socialist government. The millennial views the world as an equal playground and the more restrictions on our God given rights, the better for a “safer and non- offensive world.”
What they need to understand is a government who can restrict any type of liberty will. They will cherry pick the U.S. Constitution, treat it like an a la carte menu, and each new restriction results in an avalanche of more lost liberties.
TRACK THE CASH
Full time schoolteacher and current Westminster City Councilman runs for Carroll County Commissioner. The teacher’s unions who donate money and time to his campaign back him. Be clear, no one is trying to deny him a right to hold an elected office. Simply because he is a teacher, does not mean he cannot run for the office. However, once he wins, because of simply the appearance of impropriety, he should resign from his teaching job. As stated above, the commissioners have absolute executive power. No one commissioner is more responsible than the other is for any decisions. The commissioner president is not a mayor or governor but merely a title that unfortunately gets him a little more in salary from the taxpayers.
So in the rolling hills of Carroll County, the total FY 17 budget is $388,407,000 and of that, 49.92 percent will go to the Public Schools. The Carroll County Board of Education is, of course, the largest employer with 3,650 employees. And so it is fitting that the schools would get the lion’s share of the budget of just about 50 percent. The budget is $193,889,000, which is a 2.69 increase over FY16. That includes a $5.7M, or 3.2%, increase to Carroll County Public Schools to fund salary increases, including that of the full time school teacher/commissioner – and, oh – p.s. his wife is also a school teacher with the Carroll County Public Schools.
When the Superintendent of Carroll County Board of Education, Stephen Guthrie, comes before the Carroll County Board of Commissioners he is there as a superior to the school teacher/commissioner (oh and was it mentioned his wife is also a teacher?) The superintendent of schools can rip apart a teaching contract single handedly. And so where does the loyalty of the school teacher lie? Is it with the taxpayers to ensure the money is being spent wisely or is it with his boss whom he and his spouse are subordinates to and whom their income depends. At this point, you might ask, “what difference does it make?”
The ethical and proper thing to do would be for the teach to resign from his job with CCPS or as commissioner to recuse himself from any and all negotiations and votes on issues pertaining to the CCPS. He did neither. Although still an employee with the CCPS as a commissioner, he took the favorable vote for the salary funding increase for teachers and the adoption of the FY 17 budget.
This has been brought to the attention of the Carroll County Ethics commission – appointed by the county commissioners – and the Board of Education Ethics Council. Both have said there is no “incompatibility” with the commissioner also being an employee of the CCPS. It was then brought to the attention of the Maryland Attorney General
AG Opinion July 25, 2016
“On behalf of the Board of Education of Carroll County (“school board”), you have asked for our opinion on two questions that have arisen out of the election of Dennis E. Frazier, a public school employee, to the Board of County Commissioners of Carroll County. Your first question is whether “a county commissioner, who is also a public school employee, may vote on matters impacting the local board of education,” particularly school funding matters. This question does not raise an issue of State law. Instead, county law—specifically, Carroll County’s ethics ordinance—controls County officials’ duties to avoid conflicts of interest. It is our policy not to construe local laws in our opinions, and therefore we offer no opinion on that issue.”
This opinion response to the Board of Education Ethics Agency continues “As you have pointed out, Mr. Frazier’s teaching position does not conflict with the office of commissioner by virtue of subordination to, or supervision by, that office; county governing bodies lack the power to appoint, remove, or supervise school board employees. And while the county commissioners ultimately approve the local school system’s budget and fund it in part, the county commissioners do not set individual teacher salaries.
Mr. Frazier’s two positions thus do not fall under the Hetrich court’s example of a conflict that would create an incompatibility. Addressing a similar issue, the Attorney General of Kansas concluded that the incompatibility doctrine did not bar a local school board employee from serving on the state board of education because the state board did not supervise the employee and did not set either the employee’s salary or the employee’s duties.”
Wait… WHAT? The court of Appeals has already ruled “The fundamental test of incompatibility at common law is whether there is a present or prospective conflict of interest; as where one office is subordinate to the other or subject to supervision by the other, or where the incumbent of one office has the power to appoint or remove or to set the salary of the other.”
The teacher/commissioner is helping to create a budget and vote upon said matters as a superior to Mr. Guthrie; yet, also as a subordinate based on his employment and therefore creates the conflict of interest and/or the appearance of such conflict because he then goes to the end of the line with his hand out for his salary as an employee of the Carroll County Board of Education.
Yet, the Maryland AG says the ethics commissions are correct and there is no “incompatibility” and zero conflict of interest with the teach being a commissioner. Its reasoning is the teacher/commissioner does not craft the budget, has no input and therefore, simply because he votes for it there is no conflict. Bulldoogle.
The entire county budget is at the hands of the commissioners as they can steal from Paul to pay the teachers. In other words, if the CCPS needs more money they can take it from Open Space projects or whatever area they deem. This process fundamentally suggests a conflict because the commissioner while not creating the Board of Education budget certainly can add to it.
GRASS ROOTS SURVIVAL
These types of situations occur every day. These are the scenarios We the People can work to correct. Currently, we have morally challenged elected officials. We need to elect persons with high moral character. With the amount of responsibility we are entrusting to them, we must demand ethics.
Integrity, ethics, character “it’s what we do when no one else is around.” There was a lady talk show host years ago who talked about dirt on the heels of a women’s shoes. “Can you imagine what their underwear must look like if they don’t care what others are seeing?” she said. I’ve never forgotten it and it pertains to our elected officials as well. If they are going to steal from us right before our eyes, if the unethical behavior is so blatant before our very eyes, we can only imagine how bad it really it is behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, people blindly vote and more often than not for the name, they know. It doesn’t matter what a voting record looks like – heck, most people don’t even know what their local legislators do or how to obtain their voting record. We need to engage. We need to arrive at the local council meetings and see how these crooks spend our tax dollars, take to the microphone, and voice valid objection.
Get in the game. Be proactive because these type of local corrupt and unethical politicians grow up to be bigger corrupt and unethical politicians. Work to nip it in the bud. Our survival starts at the grass roots.