Hello Joe, I've seen some interesting happenings going on around our county government. So I would like to put out how I perceive them and then ask our citizens how they perceive them. I've often heard the word "transparency" used in relation to our county government. One definition says that you can see clearly through something without distortion. I like to view transparency as free from pretense or deception. Let's look at something put out at one of our recent County Council meetings. I believe our County Administrator was making a point to the Council that something should be done with the Revenue Cap and referenced The Sage Group Report. Now for those of you who have not read this report I suggest you take the time to read it. It's on line under Wicomico County Government Financial. At this time I would like to thank Mr. Strausburg for inviting me to this forum as it gives me first hand account as to what went on, at least in my group. Most of our county government personnel like to keep a distance between themselves and VOICE members but I have to give it to Mr. Strausburg because I was invited. First of all I would like to give you my perception of the Sage Report. If you are in County Government and want to do something the best thing to do is to pay for a report that will support what you are trying to do. Thus The Sage Report. Paid for by our County Executive to say what he's been wanting to do for years and that is to get rid of the Revenue Cap. Now as you read through this report I want you to take notice that you don't see any suggestions that weren't already put out at some time in one of many meeting attended by our citizens. But what the County Executive can now say is "it was recommended by The Sage Group". That's the reason for the thirty thousand dollars paid for out of our taxpayers pockets. This I call "deception". I also want you to note that there is no mention of the names of who attended these meetings and what comments they said. For some reason the County Executive appears to not want the citizens to know who attended these sessions and what they said. Didn't he run on what's that word? Oh yeah, "Transparency". Well let's be transparent about it Mr. County Executive, who were the people in this group and what was their input? Perhaps taxpayers would like to know about suggestions of speed cameras and how they could bring in more revenue. Or perhaps they could hear from the businessman who said that businesses didn't support the Revenue Cap because of the negative aspects on the Board of Education. Yeah, let's hear his name and what business he owns. Here's a point that came up often in the report and guess where you hear it from all the time? "The County Can Not Cut Any Spending ". Ever hear that from our County Administration side of government or the BOE? Almost at every meeting. But how would any citizen know about what could be cut and what can't be cut? The citizens are purposely kept in the dark. Just look back a week ago when our County Executive tried to keep top salaries hidden from the people. After seeing them I don't blame him because I feel he owes the citizens a good reason for what he tried to do. For years I have stood in front of our County Council and ask that a full copy of the BOE and County Budget be put in the Library and County Office Building for the citizens to review. You know the budget I'm talking about. Not the 8-10 pages given out at meetings but the four inch copies used by the County Council. Does anyone know if that's been done yet? I truly haven't had the chance to check this out. A member of one group stated that he can see the money going into the BOE but just can't see where it is being spent! He wasn't in my group and if I knew his name I would shake his hand for pointing out what just about every citizen knows and the County Government won't do anything about it. What's that word again? Oh yeah, Transparency". Another idea that this report keeps putting out is "the citizens didn't really understand what they were signing when the Revenue Cap was put up for the Citizens to vote on. How many times have we heard this at numerous meetings by the same people? I think that the County Executive believes that if he keeps having this put out (and remember, this is in The Sage Report) he believes people will believe it. So here's what I would like to see.I would like people to read the Sage Report and see if perhaps the County Executive's office is now using it to justify their means. I would also like to see the names of the people who made up the groups for the Sage Report and have them comment on their inputs. Put your name on it if you believe in what you said. Don't hide behind "Anonymous"
John Palmer, President VOICE,Inc.