FNP LTE on the Privatization of Frederick County services

BoCC does not operate openly

Originally published June 16, 2011

Blaine Young, president of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners, is putting the county on the fast track toward privatizing our government.In preparation, the BoCC traveled to Sandy Springs, Ga., and then paid $25,000 for a report on the feasibility of privatization in Frederick County. All good, except that the author of that report, Oliver Porter, earns a living promoting public-private partnerships (see www.pppassociates.org).

In my opinion, it is not very likely that the report will be neutral, and help us to really understand and evaluate the pros and cons of privatizing our services.

For example, will the report contain an analysis of why Sandy Spring has discontinued its contract with CH2M Hill starting July 1, citing cost as the predominant reason? I doubt it. And did the public get a chance to review and analyze the report prior to the BoCC meeting to discuss privatization? Not under this board.

Porter’s report was not to be available until Wednesday evening, for a 1 p.m. presentation at Winchester Hall today, Thursday, June 16 (which I encourage us all to attend!).

At the June 9 BoCC meeting, commissioners Young, Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve voted not to allow the public to see the report before today’s presentation; Gray and Smith strongly objected. How can we participate and understand the options for our tax dollars if we don’t have the background information that the BoCC will have in hand?

But that is exactly the point. This board, led by Young, has made clear by its actions that it doesn’t value transparency, public participation and open government. Those are values that are apparently long gone in Frederick County.