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.

 
` `