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This is the 8th or 9th 'open' budgeting process that I've watched. It is truly the epitome of watching sausage being made at the local level. Obviously it is the first go around for Mason and Jacob... and it is truly a 'go around' process... as it is literally trying to get some round expenses to fit into the square budget parameters. It is a frustrating process to watch as it progresses towards some sort of end game. The participants, CC's and otherwise, are exchanging comments, questions, etc. And herein lies the public's dilemma... taking a specific dialogue out of context rather than evaluating the whole.
Last week was a disaster (both in the budget session and the regular meeting) in many ways, but it was more of a growing session in retrospect for the two new electeds. To their credit, they did a course correction yesterday at both sessions that moved the process forward. This might have been lost on the presenters and viewers, because it is natural to try to 'predict' outcomes, especially for a particular pet project, cause or entity. The ink blot truly (there's that word again!) did flip... as Mason and Jacob showed that they are gathering information and knowledge and a remarkable understanding of the process.
At this point in the process, it's a mistake to try to predict what the CC's will do on the macro and micro level... and it's not because they are unpredictable... it's because the process hasn't manifested itself into a predictable end. Bottom line... what the CC's will do collectively and individually is NOT predictable at this point. It's fallacy to assume an outcome at this point. And that should be very good news for the CofK.
Loved the start to the Budget process at 3:00...with the County IT guru 'asking' for $$$'s to extend the 21st Century to Golts and Quaker Neck with availability to 21st Century internet. While it's not true that the Blair Witch Project actually occurred in Golts, the proposed initiative fill out our map. Exactly how the initiative progresses to fruition remains to be seen, but this makes the internet a reality for all of our citizens. And despite the protests of a Chestertownie (more on this) council type later in the program, this is an important investment in our economic and quality of life future, Sweet.
The Main Event of the afternoon budget session was the pleas from Betterton, Chestertown and Millington for $$$'s from the county for duplicate services.
Millington's request was short and sweet... please, please give us some $$$'s.
Betterton's was a little deeper as it delved into the Beach and its financial burden. There are some practical obstacles to charging fees for beach access... for all, but particularly non-residents.
The Chestertownies were captained by Mayor Cerino... who came armed with data about the tax rebates/tax differentials for the counties on the Eastern Shore. It's obvious that the town is in a financial pickle. Mason opined whether the town's problems would be remedied by a PILOT from WAC... as that was one of the highlights of the presentation about how the public safety spending has reached $1.7 million. And the mention of all the counties in Maryland and their points on this parallax was emphasized many times... BUT with the exclusion of Howard County, which happens to have zero incorporated towns and manages its budgets through a highly paid and skilled County Executive. As the passionate presentation was winding down, town council members, Marty Stetson and David Foster, thought they'd add their expertise to the discussion. Stetson proved that his whacko actions on the Pride week-end was no fluke... as he permanently marked himself as detached from reality. David Foster basically insulted the CC's with his 'how not to win' rants... and added some incendiary remarks about Jacob's thought process. Jacob earned many merits for his comeback that should not be lost on evaluating his ability to govern.
And... the process continues.
The evening session was highlighted by an encore presentation by the SAC's Social Justice junior STAR's. It was led by the same guru who made the presentation at the last BOE meeting... with the same absolute boundaries as before. When you hear this for the fourth time, you start to wonder whether this process is teaching the STAR kids to think... or to accept by rote such a rigid philosophy. 'We' and 'We are taught to...' plague the commentary with illusions of this rigidity that makes you wonder whether these kids will see the forest for the trees in their search for racial injustices. Herein lies the problem.
These kids are on a noble mission. One that our society hasn't been able to master for eons. Start Talking About Race has all types of opportunities for attacking racism at many sources. Unfortunately what is missing is the element of comparative dialogue... as any discussion of this magnitude has to manifest itself with the understanding that there is only one possible absolute fact: there is a God or there isn't a god. And no one can prove which is true.
Further... from a philosophical debate... you can't prove a negative... as in 'prove that it isn't racism'.
What is so great about these kids is that they're being exposed to such a complex issue while their adolescent brains are still developing.
I haven't had a chance to watch yet but the Tuesday, April 23 3pm Budget Session followed by the 6pm County Commissioners meeting is available on the SOS YouTube channel - https://youtu.be/ylGLkzzQRgE
Thanks for posting this. The proverbial fork is in the road ahead. Every budget year is critical, but at some point we have to stop kicking the can down the road. It's OK for me to vote on 'hope', but it's another to plan our future.
While the C'town/County exchange was pure theater, it did not minimize the financial crisis that Chestertown is in. ALL options should be on the table. But... it's highly unlikely that any of the Chestertown crew have the capability to look outside the town limits. Big problems require bigger solutions.
Within this maelstrom lies all kinds of 'out of the box' opportunities. How many times do they have to knock. The Chestertownies, electeds and citizens, have to open some doors.