CBG9-13-2018

We had a lively and informative event with a good talk from States Attorney candidate Strong.  He told us how he feels about crime and punishment both personally and how he is able and willing to do follow the rules handed down by the State legislature whether he agrees or not.  The public really seems to support strong sentencing, while the legislature seems to be in the saving taxpayer money on punishment which does not appear to rehabilitate.  No one really voiced any solution.  We are in an increasingly liberal environment of shortening sentences and forgiving crimes which simply scares law abiding citizens.  While strong sentences don’t appear capable on their own of stopping crime, they do stop individuals while they are incarcerated.  No one is getting a good result.  Both Mr. Strong and his opponent, Mr. Di Gregory, have all the necessary tools, knowledge and experience for the job.  We wish both of these candidates a fortunate election outcome.  It is a difficult decision for voters, but the citizens will win either way.

Meanwhile the Candidates for Judge of Orphan’s Court continue to impress us with the dedication and professionalism.  They really are common citizens, properly trained, that give meaningful assistance to every family that comes in contact with them.  If you live here long enough, your family or your attorney will inevitably come before the Orphan’s court to probate a will or to create the needed documents to settle your estate.  The pay isn’t very good, but the human stories are truly excellent.  What a great way to meet nearly every family in the area while providing needed help and direction during difficult family times.    We have 4 total candidates running for the three seats on the Orphan’s Court panel.  We wish them all the best and know that whatever three win, the citizens of Kent County will have good people in place when a will needs to be probated.  Everyone appreciates their continued service.

 

 

There is always something more to know.  That’s what Kent CBG brings to the area at an early hour on a weekly basis.  The work of the three member panel of the Orphans Court is there to assist family members when they are having issues with the last wishes, the will or lack of a will for a deceased member of their family.  These are trained citizen judges, not necessarily formally trained in the way lawyers are, but that may be one of the good choices that government has made over the years.  Allowing the common sense of those individuals who are known and respected in the community to give skilled, trained, yet sympathetic assistance and judgment based on the law is a good thing.  With 15% of the deaths in the county ending up for some version of guidance or supervision, there is always something to be done by this panel of concerned citizens who sit as judges in such matters.

There seemed to be no end of interesting stories from the incumbents.  The job sounds intellectually rewarding, but don’t get involved for the money.  There is very little pay for this work, but it is of very high value to those who need this guidance to get past the probate process.

We wish all 4 candidates for the three positions good luck in the election.  The 4th candidate will visit with us Sept 13th.

 

commiss 2

The second set of three hopefuls for County Commissioner met with Kent CBG this morning.  The audience  was intent on school funding, county population and job growth, and transportation issues.  The two sitting commissioners, Pickrum and Fithian were very well prepared for these questions and Tom Timberman gave us his views on these pressing subjects. The difficult problem in Kent County is how to grow tax revenue to meet increasing expenses and funding requests when faced with long term population decrease.  Couple these issues with a large number of the local populaces very much opposed to more traffic, higher density housing, and a perceived loss of the rural character of the region. 

These are trying issues that have been faced for some decades.  Here we are, not beyond all hope, but how do people who live here and those who represent us in government make what may prove to be rather controversial and potentially unpopular choices about making things better for the poor, the disabled, and the old while at the same time giving better education, better opportunities and better places to live to the younger population we must keep and also attract to live here.

There is hope and many suggestions from smart and optimistic people who attended.  There is much concern that funding requires revenue which must be raised or cut from other programs. Being a commissioner is a difficult job.  We can see the professionalism in those who already are on the Commission.  We also see it in the high interest and desire of those striving to replace the incumbents.  Vote in the election and be heard!

 

 

CBG8-23We had a fairly large audience and a few members in it were anxious to ask the incumbent and the two hopeful Commissioner candidates some direct questions concerning school funding and details of how the tax differential can be re-constituted for the incorporated towns of Kent.  We discussed what kind of “growth” would be acceptable for this mostly rural county, how it would look and where it might be.  Would growth impact net revenue in a positive way or with the higher costs associated with serving more people be neutral or decrease out net revenue?

There is a lot of interest in who will be elected to this rather powerful local office.  I found it interesting that the candidates who are running for this office have not been regular attendees to the meetings of the commissioners.  This does seem to us as a very good way to find out what the job really is all about and to have a deep understanding of the details of the job requirements.   It was suggested that by going to these public meetings, the candidates would be more able to suggest more in depth and fact based suggestions that they would bring to the table if elected.

This should be an exciting election season because those three of the six running for this office do make very important political and financial decisions when they meet.

 

We had a very informative morning with Mr. DiGregory.  He made several points about his varied experience as a criminal litigator and as a public defender.  He is readily able to make his point of view clear and it seems great that such a well qualified candidate is looking now to the public for support and for the needed votes.  On Sept 13th, we will host his opponent for the same office and also give him an equal opportunity to impress us as voters and citizens.  The activities and programs being supported in the Justice department of Kent County sound like they are meeting the need of those who have been trapped in the drug scene and want to get clear of it going forward.  We have an intensive program to support those who deserve and want an opportunity for relief from drugs and to get back into normal lives without carrying a felony record into the future.  We can only hope it succeeds on a long term basis.   

There was lots of discussion on the new approach to bail.  It makes sense not to incarcerate poor people who honestly intend to appear at their trial.  Qualifying people for bail based on their  attitude, history and threat to others, rather than making money the determining factor does make good sense and appears to be saving the taxpayers money by keeping the jails less full of poor people waiting for their day in court.

 

We had a good sized audience for today’s speakers.  Two incumbents and two hopeful of being elected to the Kent County Board of Education.  Each was given 10 minutes for their own introduction and then the floor was opened for questions and many thought provoking statements by audience participants.  It was informative and rewarding for those in attendance.  As today’s event is early in the campaign, some of the questions and issues raised may help the candidates to better form future talking points and to be even more fully prepared to respond  in the balance of the time remaining before election day.

We asked, in advance, that each candidate be able to personally define what “fully funded” means.  This term is often casually used in the mix of explanations given for so many things to do with funding of schools.  Each candidate gave it a go.  We never ought to expect all the money that is requested to simply be delivered.  We live in times where there are constant demands to pay more and more taxes.  People don’t want to pay more without guarantees of positive effectiveness.   Those on the Board of Education are the public’s buffer between the demand for more funding and the limitation of revenue being collected.

We are left in a quandary.  Can we truly hope to provide first rate basic education against the large presence of long term poverty and its effects?   Is it realistic to think that what the public schools might offer will be competitive with first rate private education where parental support is demanded, courses are more oriented to the gifted rather than the average or struggling student, and where the effects of poverty are virtually removed?  What must the public schools concentrate on achieving?  What is beyond the scope of public education?  What is optional, what are the priorities of those options, and what is absolutely mandated?

In the end, the Board of Education acts as the elected representatives of the public, advises the school administration and County Commissioners.  The BOE members fit the budget handed to them by the school administration to work with the revenue supplied to them by the the State and County.  This is no easy task.  Cutting the amount of requested funds to fit the revenue is a task which creates controversy.  We commend the BOE members for the patience required of them, their commitment to the public, the students, the schools, and to education.

 

WC-ALL is now in its 26th year of service and education in Chestertown.  The upcoming schedule sounded exciting and of high quality.  We’ve grown to expect it, but there are no disappointments with the upcoming offerings.   We tossed around ideas for learning sessions and other events.  Sometimes good thing happen when you least expect them and I belive we came up with a few good ideas.  That’s how it works.  

Sign up now for the Fall Season.

 

Johnson-Granillo

Airlee Johnson of the Social Action Committee and Rosemary Granillo of the Local Management Board are both highly immersed in finding ways to improve inter-race relations and to seek ways to mitigate and end racism.  We find it a truly difficult and long term task, but one worth working on.  Making things better is far more effective than saying the work is simply too difficult to make an attempt.

The vast majority of Americans came here from other lands in the past 300 years.  It has taken considerable time to reach accommodation for many ethnic and religious groups.  Some have done far better than others in becoming powerful.  Some have progressed very little.  Seeking some further equity will benefit society as a whole.  We need to live together and support one another.  There seems little choice on this matter.  Past differences should be put in the past.  Just like we no longer accept bullying in schools, we should feel the same way about racism.  If we work at it, we will achieve some of the desired effects, but it will take work.

The talk was enlightening and involving.  The audience was moved to share and participate.  If you weren’t there, you missed one of CBG’s best presentations.

 

The statistics make it painfully clear that the revenue sharing which is normal in nearly all of Maryland counties between each county and their contained Municipalities is missing in Kent County since the recession of 2008.  Such a loss in revenue has led to a local tax increase, but there are still many budget cuts which come from delaying increasingly necessary expenditures which simply cannot be delayed forever.  The County Commissioners know of the situation and they say it is “On the radar”, but they did not act to alleviate the unfairness at the last budget approval process.

 

Citizens who understand the process and the Tax Differential need to more forcefully insist that the tax sharing between County and Municipalities be re-instituted in Kent.  The best way is to get an understanding of the history and why there is revenue sharing.  Then, when the commissioners meet, they need to hear clearly the message that fairness s important to who will be elected.  There is a golden opportunity now, before our general election, to make the case and to spread the word.  David Foster made the case clearly and simply.  There may be opposing opinions, but that is okay and part of our democratic process.  The big thing now is to be HEARD………………..

 

kramer

Bob Kramer has a unique way of writing and self expression.  It is a bit tricky and convoluted, but within has deep thought, ideas for change while keeping the best of the past, and bringing needed efficiency to local government.  His blog makes for good reading and his in-person talk with Kent CBG participants ranged far and wide over the future of Kent County with a focus also on Chestertown as a unique place to live as well as a venue for events.  Inevitably, some change is coming, but can we make changes that improve the schools, strengthen the local economy, and not spend in an inefficient or wasteful way?  Kramer attends many of the local governmental meetings.  He has seen the inner workings of our representatives.  His insights were worth the time spent with him to see what a person can do to become knowledgeable about what is going on in Kent and Chestertown.

 

 
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