Wrong Line of Work

Hey Friends, I’ve been buried in campaign website stuff today, so I apologize for my tardiness on this issue.  Not that it’s old news now, but I’m sure the mainstream media has long since moved on. 

So, apparently, I’m in the wrong line of work.  Move over Steve, maybe I should be the candidate for the county council.  I mean, to work part time for 20 years, retire, and get paid a full time pension for the rest of my life…I’m not exactly a numbers chick, but I’m thinking that’s a pretty good deal.  No worries, Whisler, I have no desire to be a politician, but I wouldn’t mind that gig.  Sure, he’ll get a little flack for it in the days to come, but what does he care?  He’s getting $54,000 a year for the rest of his life.  Granted, especially in this area, that is not a large sum of money, but he could work part time at Starbucks and still live pretty comfortably. 

Regardless, who’s dumb idea was it to give these councilman free reign over their own pensions?  Seriously?  Are there no checks and balances anymore people?  Well, of course not, there is no balance on the council.  They can do whatever they want.  Do you think they care about the opinions of the 10 or so people that actually show up at council meeting?  People unchecked naturally find themselves drowning in corruption.  And to be honest, it’s not like it would be too much different if the Council was made up of mostly Republicans.  I really do believe in balance.  Now, I happen to like when the scales tip my way, but too much of any side creates an aura of arrogance, temptation, and compromise.

 As sweet as the Gardina deal may seem, let’s remember who’s footing the bill.  Oh right, that would be us.  I’m guessing they couldn’t think of anything better to do with that $54,000 a year.  I’m sure all the schools have everything they could possibly need.  The roadways are without blemish.  Business is booming, traffic is light, and parks have accessible  and open “facilities” (pet peeve of mine).

On Wednesday, Steve Whisler called into the Dave Durian show on WBAL radio to speak up about the crock of a policy (my words not his).  I didn’t get to hear it, but I heard he did an excellent job articulating his point of view.  Basically, no one should be paid full time for part time work, especially when the very people paying that salary are struggling to make ends meet themselves.

The Baltimore Sun deserves credit for exposing the lucrative pension that Democratic County Councilman Vince Gardina will receive upon leaving office (Baltimore Sun, October 21, 2009).  The county’s teachers, firefighters, and police officers would be happy to earn anywhere near the $54,000 annual pension this retiring Councilman will receive.

Here is a comment to the Baltimore Sun from Chris Cavey, Chairman, Baltimore County Republican Central Committee:

            The Baltimore County Council, under Democratic control for 15 years, has had ample opportunity to reform the pension system for its top leaders.  The 2010 election will likely bring many new faces to the County Council.   Republicans and reform-minded Democrats should make pension reform a top priority.

            Pension reform should not be the only item on the County Council’s agenda.  The county needs a new emphasis on openness, transparency, and accountability.

             In addition to lucrative pensions, County Councilmembers are allowed the use of a county-owned car.  That policy could be revisited.  The Council could also reschedule its work sessions to evening hours, so citizens could attend without missing work.  In that same spirit, a more open county government would embrace reforms to the zoning and development process, move hearings for major developments to the nighttime.

             Your article touched a nerve with a lot of Baltimore County taxpayers.  Let us hope they demand the changes the current County Council has failed to enact.


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