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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(8/2014) Many of us grew up playing a game call Truth or Dare. It was a popular game where players chose between answering a question honestly or performing a dare. Teens played to try to find out who really had a crush on whom and to keep gossip circles full of interesting rumors.

Today’s politics sometimes seems like a game of Truth or Dare. Some elected officials and politicians of all stripes will say just about anything to grab a headline, make a point, or give their political opponent a jab. With the pending Presidential election in full swing, this point is easily made. Somehow, Americans seems enthralled with this kind of political debate and just can’t resist the chatter it creates.

For good or bad, this is also the case in county and local politics. At one time, radio talk shows cared about sharing factual information. Now it is all about entertainment. A high percentage of what now qualifies as "political talk radio" is really just a grown-up game of Truth or Dare. Let’s just stir the pot and see what we can say to get people talking!

For someone who works hard to present accurate information and cares about the facts, this constant game of Truth or Dare can be pretty darn frustrating. So, let’s set the record straight with a few examples.

Truth or Dare? The County Executive’s office has grown with numerous new staff positions costing taxpayers a lot of money. There is absolutely no truth to this assertion. The County Executive inherited the former County Manager’s office staff. There are five new faces but only one incremental position, and the total cost of salaries and fringe benefits is less than under the prior Board of Commissioners.

Truth or Dare? If it’s in the phone book, county government shouldn’t be doing it! Slow down…the assumption that privatization always saves money has been proven to be wrong. Sometimes the private sector can do work for the county that saves money, and other times county employees can do the work more efficiently and at less cost. The rule of thumb is this: if there is work that is done repeatedly, the county can usually develop staff expertise to do this routine work more efficiently and at less cost than the private sector. County employees take pride in their work, and the county is not interested in making a profit. If the work activity is not routine, then often the private sector can do the work more efficiently.

Truth or Dare? The County Executive is pulling the strings of the County Council, particularly the council leadership. There is no truth to this at all. The County Council is the legislative branch of county government under charter government and operates independently from the executive branch. Council meeting agendas, schedules and operations are determined solely by the County Council. The County Executive does not attend or participate in County Council meetings and does not play a role in setting the agenda or managing the meetings. The County Executive does make sure that staff reports and information are provided as needed.

Truth or Dare? The council members who are teachers get to vote on their own salaries. Not true; in fact, it is not even possible! Council members only vote on education funding in the context of the entire county budget. In the most recent budget process, the council members adopted no motions specific to changing the amount of funding provided to the Board of Education as proposed by the County Executive. It is the separately elected Board of Education that negotiates teacher salaries and sets salaries and benefits for all school system employees. School system employees are not county employees; therefore, council members have no authority to set school system employees’ salaries.

Truth or Dare? The County 9-1-1 communications center is the first in the region to offer text to 9-1-1 services. This is true. Frederick County emergency communications leads the country and the region in providing text to 9-1-1 service which benefits the deaf community and people who find themselves in an emergency situation where a phone call is not possible.

If you want to know more about what’s happening in Frederick County Government, stay in touch. You can contact me at or by calling 301-600-3190. Follow me on Facebook at Frederick County Executive Jan H. Gardner or on Twitter at @JanGardnerExec. There are always exciting things happening in Frederick County Government!

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