2/8/13 FoFC opposes Del Clagett’s bill that stifles taxpayer voice about development projects

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frederick lawmaker’s bill would limit challenges to developer pacts

by Sherry Greenfield Staff writer

A state delegate wants to make it more difficult to undo binding agreements between developers and the Frederick Board of County Commissioners to build hundreds of new homes and businesses….

…“Should Del. Clagett characterize his bill as pro-business…[Friends of Frederick County] believes that pro-developer, developer-friendly, pro special interest or anti-Frederick County taxpayer would be a more accurate characterization of Del. Clagett’s bill,” Wiles said in an email.

Read the entire article here.

 

10-30-12 7pm Walkersville: Open Forum on New Charter v Current Commissioner form of Frederick County government

 

Map showing potential land use change in Point of Rocks

Current land use in Point of Rocks

 

 

 

Proposed land use change in Point of Rocks, MD

10-14-11 All eyes on the county’s Privatization Advisory Committee (PAC) and on the Partnerships and Efficiencies Committee (PEC)

PAC needs to watchdog PEC

Letter to the Editor – originally published October 14, 2011 in the Frederick News Post

Although the Board of County Commissioners removed Oliver Porter’s wholesale privatization scheme from consideration following public criticism over its deficiencies, their move to privatize county government continues.At the first substantive meeting of the Privatization Advisory Committee on Oct. 4, that group was asked to endorse a recommendation from the Partnerships and Efficiencies Committee that internal performance audits be subject to outsourcing. The appalling thing to me, as an observer at that meeting, was the incomplete and poorly researched nature of the information presented for their consideration.

This “citizens” committee was created in response to criticism that the public was excluded from this potentially radical reworking of county government, as both the Steering Committee and PEC meet in private.

Will this committee be more than a rubber stamp? An editorial in the Sept. 25 News-Post questioned “whether this committee really serves the citizens it purports to represent, and if the interests of the appointees to the committee are too deeply interwoven with those of Commissioners President Blaine Young to be objective.”

However, on Oct. 4 the PAC did not immediately concur with the PEC’s recommendation, but asked some good questions and requested further information.

As the public’s only representative in this process, it is to be hoped that they will continue to demand better information and to exercise thoughtful judgment. Their next meeting will be on Monday, Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. in the third floor meeting room in Winchester Hall. It will also be televised live on Channel 19.

 

MARY ELLEN

RHODERICK

Read it online.

Proposals for land use change in Frederick County

Friends of Frederick County has analyzed the 194 proposals available for public reading at:  Frederick County Government website, Community Development page. Here is a summary of our findings:

 

Municipality Number of proposals Agriculture/open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning  (acres) Agriculture/ open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning for residential development (acres) approximate # of homes to be constructed approx # of new school children approx # of additional car trips/day on local roads
ADAMSTOWN 13 3203.0 99.9 293.0 159.1 2804.0
BRUNSWICK 7 339.4 321.4 737.0 400.2 7053.1
FREDERICK 33 2358.0 2169.6 3172.7 1722.8 30362.7
MIDDLETOWN 18 518.7 505.9 1215.6 660.1 11633.3
NEW MARKET 43 3691.0 2331.4 7505.1 4075.3 71823.8
THURMONT 19 486.0 434.3 452.0 245.4 4325.6
URBANA 46 2769.0 2380.7 5189.9 2818.1 49667.3
WALKERSVILLE 15 2014.0 1857.3 4847.0 2631.9 46385.8
194 15379.0 10100.5 23412.3 12712.9 224055.7

 

New timeline for privatization faster than Oliver Porter’s

Frederick County’s Partnership and Efficiencies Committee has released a new timeline regarding the BOCC’s move towards privatization. It can be found here.

Also, seen below is a detached image of the timeline provided in that document:

The new County timeline

As seen in this timeline, and explained in slightly more detail within the original document, the final meeting of significance is on January 12, 2012. During this meeting, the BOCC is planned to vote on bid submissions, and upon approval, newly established partnerships are planned to commence.

Now let’s look at the timeline provided at the end of Oliver Porter’s report on page 26. I have also attached an image of this timeline below the County’s timeline for the sake of convenience.

Oliver Porter's timeline

According to Oliver Porter’s timeline, the Commission was to make a decision about privatization sometime in the first month, and the RFP process would begin subsequently. Let’s say that the BOCC had made the decision to privatize as soon as possible: the minute that the July 26th public hearing ended. After that, the Porter timeline sets the date for awarding contracts seven months later, sometime in the eighth month. If the contracts were awarded on the very first day of the eighth month, that would be February 26th, 2012.

The public reaction against the Oliver Porter report was strong. Many people spoke up at all four hearings about how the report included no sources, it included no evidence to back up its cost savings projections, it included no methodology, many of its numbers were simply incorrect, the author had a financial interest in reporting with a bias, and more than anything else, people said that the timeline was too fast.

At every hearing I heard speaker after speaker encouraging the Commissioners to slow down and to take this idea and this process seriously. And yet, the County has now put forward a timeline which plans for the County to award contracts for County services to private bidders approximately a month and a half sooner. Not once do I remember a single speaker encouraging the Commissioners to speed up, and yet that is what’s happening.

Since the potential privatization of Frederick County services has now been pushed forward to only five months away, it is even more important that the public lets the BOCC know that they aren’t flying under the radar. Be ready for more information regarding privatization plans, and for more details regarding the pending October 13th, 2011 and January 12th, 2012 meetings.

If you’d like any additional information, or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at davidboston88@gmail.com.

Spread the word!

07-19-11 FoFC speaks out on privatization

Friends of Frederick County has spoken out on privatization in Frederick County - read this position paper.  Summer intern and University of Maryland graduate student, David Boston, had a lot to say at the July 2011 public hearing:   http://onefrederickmanyvoices.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-19-2011-ethics-of-bocc-outsourcing.html

BOCC seeing serious resistance against privatization plan

This afternoon marked the end of the second public hearing regarding the BOCC’s plan (being pushed forward by Commissioners Young, Shreve and Delauter) to privatize core services in Frederick County and implement a public-private partnership. There was a huge turnout of County employees and residents at the first hearing on the evening of July 12th, filling all rooms of Winchester Hall with many people remaining outside to wait, and the hearing this morning (the 19th) filled at least the main hearing room on the 1st floor when the hearing began.

Many of the County employees and other speakers brought up excellent points, and substantiated their points with ample amounts of evidence, analysis, and experience.

Some of the main points that have been brought up and supported multiple times throughout these first two hearings include the following:

  • The County can often provide services more cheaply than contractors have in the past, and the switch to providing these services in-house often results in great savings.
  • The financial problems which the County is facing are not as dire as the pro-privatization Commissioners have made them out to be, and there are many ways that the County could save money and get our finances back on track without dismantling the government.
  • The Porter report which the BOCC has used (until today – explained further down) as the only piece of literature presented to the public in support of this privatization plan was riddled with errors, and provided absolutely no sources, background data, or methodology of any kind.
  • Private contractors often time experience high turnover rates, and provide a lower quality of service than County employees can provide.

Some other information that FoFC delivered to the public at today’s hearing:

  • When talking about requirements for the private sector (in the event of an implemented PPP)  to rehire a percentage of County employees or to at least give County employees the chance to be interviewed for their old job, Blaine Young was quoted as saying “But the fewer requirements that are included, the greater the cost savings would be.”
    • So while Commissioner Young may insist that he cares about County employees to their faces, when he is elsewhere the Commissioner feels comfortable stating that County employees aren’t even worth the money it would take to pay an interviewer to talk to County employees about filling their old jobs.
  • In a response from Oliver Porter to my request for more (any) data and information regarding his sources and adjustments behind the cost-savings projections listed in his report, Oliver Porter said the following: “I can appreciate your desire to get into the details of our analysis, but I think that I must decline to do so.”
    • It would seem that Mr. Porter has received his $25,000 from the BOCC, and has no further interest in our County.
  • During the time period of a few months in which the Ethics Commission granted Commissioner Delauter an exemption from the Ethics Ordinance, and allowed Delauter’s company to accept County contracts, Commissioner Delauter took full advantage. Three County contracts, signed by Blaine Young and awarded to Kirby Delauter, worth the amounts of $70,347.31 on December 22nd, 2010, $130,657.40 on February 11th, 2011, and $88,220.66 on March 10th, 2011 were given to Commissioner Delauter before the Ethics Commission decided that this behavior was unethical.
    • What’s going to happen if Commissioners Young and Delauter are successful in their privatization efforts, and they are in charge of giving out County contracts?

We would like to thank all of the County employees who have not only worked hard for our County for so many years, but have taken the time to put forth so much extra effort in an attempt to show the BOCC that this privatization plan is a mistake. Friends of Frederick County is honored to stand by our County workers and help force our County government, and three of our Commissioners in particular, to rethink this issue of privatization on a foundation of facts, reliable research, and time-tested experience.

And eight hours (counting both hearings) of testimony against this plan has paid off in some small way. The BOCC has finally voted to take Oliver Porter’s report off the table! While this is definitely good, on the other hand, now there isn’t anything on the table at all to back up this privatization plan. A true testimony to how much work the BOCC has put towards understanding the issue, with the exception of David Gray, who suggested a Master’s thesis as a good source at the end of the hearing today (which focuses on Sandy Springs and points out many of the pitfalls to a PPP setup).

We can keep this up! The last two hearings are at the following times:

Thursday, July 21 at 1:30pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor)

Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor)

And an hour before the July 26th hearing there will be a rally held in front of Winchester Hall for anyone who has been given reason to harbor reservations regarding the privatization plan! I encourage everyone to attend!

I would also encourage everyone to watch the public hearings online on the Frederick County website if you haven’t seen them already.

The July 12th hearing can be viewed here: http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=2790

And the July 19th hearing can be viewed here: http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=2803 (if you are interested, the comments from FoFC begin at approximately 3hrs:50mins).

For your reference, the Frederick County contract numbers for the contracts that Commissioner Delauter received are 340L-SW (the Dec. 22nd contract), 186K-SW (Feb. 11th), and 322A-SW (Mar. 10th).

If you have any questions, or you would like hard or digital copies of the contracts or any other information, e-mail me at davidboston88@gmail.com.

- David Boston

Blaine Young’s BOCC favors development over our kids and rapid privatization without justification – what do you stand for?

The APFO protecting our children’s education is under siege in the interest of unchecked development

The current Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) schools test, combined with forward funding for schools, has brought Frederick County schools from over 125% overcrowding to a 90% system average. The objective of having an APFO is to ensure that schools are not overcrowded and that we maintain excellence in education. So, if the APFO is working to do that, why add an additional option that might compromise our children’s education? Why would we let developers build in areas where the school population would exceed 100% and up to 125%, as suggested by some builders? Read our full position and questions here!

Attend the June/July 2011 hearings and voice your concerns!

Wednesday, June 29 at 7pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Planning Commission on mitigation fees for school construction.

Tuesday, July 19 at 7pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners on mitigation fees for school construction.

Our County government is on the fast track towards privatization without any research to back up the decision

Commissioners Young, Shreve and Delauter are spearheading an effort to privatize many of the County’s services, allegedly to save money. However, there is no research to show that the County would indeed save money, and no departments have been looked at individually.

The BOCC paid $25,000 to a privatization consultant, Oliver Porter, to produce a study on the feasibility of privatizing county services. Since the BOCC is also considering paying Mr. Porter to consult for the County government during the privatization transition, Mr. Porter predictably said that we could save money – despite the fact that he included no methodology in his report to back up his numbers. Read our full position on this privatization scheme here.

Attend the July hearings and voice your concerns!

Tuesday, July 12 at 7pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners primarily for County employees about the privatization scheme. Open to the public.

Tuesday, July 19 at 9am, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners primarily for County employees about the privatization scheme. Open to the public.

Thursday, July 21 at 1:30pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners for the general public about the privatization scheme.

Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm, Winchester Hall (1st floor): Public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners for the general public about the privatization scheme.

If you’d like to see Mr. Porter’s report to Frederick County about privatizing our services, the report is available on the Frederick County website, and printed copies will be placed in Frederick County library branches.

 

FNP article: “Nonprofits to Frederick County: Take time privatizing”

Nonprofits to Frederick County: Take time privatizing

Ex-commissioner asks for ‘thoughtful’ tactics

Originally published June 22, 2011

By Meg Tully

News-Post Staff

Leaders from two area nonprofit organizations are calling for the Frederick County Commissioners to slow down on a proposal to privatize more than 500 county government jobs.

In his report to the commissioners, Georgia consultant Oliver Porter last week recommended the board consider outsourcing core government services handled by about 500 of the county’s more than 2,000 employees.

Four public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for next month.

On Tuesday, leaders from Friends of Frederick County and Envision Frederick County, two local nonprofits, met at C. Burr Artz Public Library to discuss the proposal with Frederick County Commissioner David Gray.

At a public hearing last week, the League of Women Voters also called for a slower process.

Friends of Frederick County and Envision Frederick County members suggested Porter’s study should be reviewed by another consultant, or the county should consider establishing a pilot program of outsourcing only one department, instead of proceeding with Porter’s plan of outsourcing all at once.

“It’s too big to rush into without a serious and thoughtful approach,” said Kai Hagen, a former Frederick County commissioner who is now executive director of Envision Frederick County.

He said the 27-page study contains little more detail than a brochure for Porter’s business, PPP Associates, and described the report as a combination puff piece and sales pitch.

David Boston, an intern with Friends of Frederick County and a graduate student at the University of Maryland, said a major flaw in relying on Porter’s expertise is that the consultant has had experience only in situations where an unincorporated area becomes a new, incorporated city — different from what would happen in Frederick County’s existing government.

In a presentation last week, Porter said Frederick County would be the first governmental body of its kind to undergo a large-scale transformation — using private contractors to provide most of the services targeted in the study. Core services include human resources, public works, financial administration, and parks and recreation.

“They’ve already acknowledged Frederick County would be the biggest guinea pig in the history of privatization,” Hagen said.

He pointed to a suggestion by Rick Weldon, a former Frederick County commissioner and state delegate, to ask the University of Maryland’s Institute for Government Services to review the concepts presented in the report. Weldon was writing on an online news forum when he suggested it. Hagen said he thought it was an excellent idea.

Gray said the commissioners are concentrating on short-term results and mentioning a dire financial situation that doesn’t exist. As an example, he pointed to the county finance division’s newest estimate of the deficit for the next budget year — $3.3 million — compared with previous estimates closer to $20 million.

“Long term, I think this board is setting up all kinds of things for a bad result in years to come,” Gray said. “You got to have enough concern to plan long term. And right now we don’t have three people to think long term, we only have two.”

Both Gray and Commissioner Paul Smith have urged commissioners to evaluate the proposal further.

Commissioners Blaine Young, Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve have expressed interest in the cost-savings potential of privatization, and have said they want to look at redefining the role of government.

Porter’s report estimates privatizing core services could save the county between $84 million and $109 million.

Janice Wiles, executive director of Friends of Frederick County, said that did not include an evaluation of how the county would be financially affected by county workers losing their jobs.

She also raised concerns about turning to private contractors to build infrastructure, citing problems with a privately maintained water system in Braddock in the mid-1990s and with sewer infrastructure at Lake Linganore. The government should be concerned about providing for the health, safety and welfare of residents above all else, she said.

“It’s not about saving money, it’s about providing good services,” Wiles said.

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IF YOU GO

The Frederick County Commissioners have scheduled four public hearings on the Public-Private Partnerships report.

The first two are intended for the county employees, but the public is invited to attend, said Commissioners President Blaine Young. The other two are intended for the public, but employees are invited to attend.

WHAT: Public hearings on the PPP report

WHEN: 7 p.m. July 12 and 9 a.m. July 19 for county employees; 1:30 p.m. July 21 and 7 p.m. July 26 for the public.

WHERE: First-floor hearing room, Winchester Hall, 12 E. Church St.

READ MORE: The report is available at www.frederickcountymd.gov. Printed copies will be placed in Frederick County library branches.