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March 1, 2005
Frederick Deserves Better!
By Ken Berlin, Aldermanic Candidate in the City of Frederick
I have become increasingly concerned about the direction that our city government is headed. The difficult working environment between some of our current Aldermen and the Mayor is not only ineffective in helping achieve what is best for our community, but detrimental and divisive to our city.
The tone that has been displayed at some of the Board meetings crosses the line of political acceptability and is just plain rude and disrespectful. These outbursts take away from the focus that our city leaders need, and detract from their effectiveness.
I’m here to say that its time to be a team again, with people who show respect for each other, with the dignity and courtesy they deserve, while working towards common and attainable goals that we all can be proud of as a community.
It is time for us to be the ‘citizen centered’ community we should be, without the rancor and distrust held by some of our Aldermen today.
I am an involved citizen.
I am an active member of Neighborhood Advisory Council #4, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, and I am on the Board of Directors for my homeowners association, Main Farm. In that role, I have helped our community in an ongoing discussion with the developer of the Shops at Monocacy on Route 26, to do the things that they had promised they would do, including installation of a border fence, raising the birm, and trash pickup at regular business hours. We have finally achieved these goals.
As a member of Neighborhood Advisory Council 4, I am also concerned with nearby locations currently being zoned for Mixed Use, when we feel that more discussion is needed to try and have it changed to a Professional Business zone.
Regarding zoning issues that we continually face, I will work with the zoning board and the affected communities when new issues come up regarding proposed construction in existing densely populated neighborhoods, to be sure that important quality of life issues remain the highest priority, including traffic flow.
I will take a good, hard look at the affordable housing dilemma faced here by our young families and singles who want to share in our Frederick experience. This must remain a top priority for our city. Hope VI is just one of the ways to successfully address this problem.
I am also concerned about our homeless, as well as our mentally and physically challenged residents who can’t take care of themselves and at times are forced into being homeless or losing their benefits due to circumstances that are outside of their control. Their concerns are my concerns and they will be top priorities for me.
In my management career, I have been responsible for budgetary discretion and responsibilities, as well as working with people to help them solve their personal needs and issues relating to their work. My success has been due in large part to making a conscious effort to listen to each and everyone’s ideas, meld them together into a common thread, and have buy-in from the people involved.
I bring this up, because too many times when I have come to Board meetings I have heard people say, ‘Why did we bother to come here at all, or even say anything? Their minds are already made up, they just don’t care, they don’t get it!’
That is not what being an elected public servant is about.
A public servant needs to keep an open mind and give the respect due to the people who elected them to their office, period. I can assure you that if I am fortunate enough to be elected, you will always have a champion for you in your corner, whether we agree on an issue or not. After all, you may bring up ideas or points that I have not even considered. Your insights and life experiences are of the utmost importance to me, especially in the decision making process.
A word about our Mayor Dougherty. I want to say that I think she has been an excellent mayor. She has had a tough job from day one, and to see how she has been able to work through the tough negative and politically charged environment of which she has been faced, with dedication and dignity, and be able to accomplish all that she has in a short amount of time, is remarkable. She has earned my respect and gratitude for her hard work on behalf of our city. Her open government policy is a model that other cities could learn from. Thank you, Madam Mayor!
What can I bring to the Frederick Board of Aldermen, if elected?
A commitment to you that I will always know that it was you who elected me, not just in an election year, but all of the time. Count on it!
I have some thoughts that I would like to talk about turning into potential action for our city.
1) Since the 2000 census, our population has grown over 10%. I will be a watchdog to make sure that whether it is the Monocacy Blvd development or other sections of our city that will be worked on in the future, growth and sprawl will not run rampant in our city.
Builders and developers must respect our rights and quality of life values, and not use the city as a never ending work-in-progress.
We must make sure that the needs of our low income and moderate income singles and families are made a priority in any new communities that are being planned to be built in the future.
Let’s be sure that our priorities are correct, and that includes having enough water and roads to support new communities.
2) I know how much the assessment taxes have hurt our people financially. I would like to propose a deferment of the increased taxes as an interest-free loan to all of our citizens 62 yrs of age and older on fixed incomes, those living on SSDI fixed income payments, as well as those not meeting certain income levels, which would take into account ‘means’ testing for inclusion. If you feel that you should be entitled to this deferment, you could appeal to the city for review. The deferred taxes would be payable to the city when either the house is sold, or transferred to someone else.
3) We also have to assess any potential budget revenue shortfall. If there is a significant shortfall that could affect some city services, I would like to propose meeting with the principals of our high schools and the school board in order to determine the viability of having high school seniors, as part of their elective courses, do work for the city 2 hours 2 days a week, exclusively tied in to the tax deferment program and get credit for it.
4) At the National Trust, I pushed for and we finally received, Long Term Care insurance as a benefit. What I would like to see is if this type of insurance could be offered for all of our city residents. As the age of our population increases, their potential needs go up as well, including nursing home care, home health care, etc. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to take advantage of long-term care insurance. If we participated as a group, premiums for long-term care insurance could be very affordable. The insurance company would be responsible for operating the program, thus not involving any additional city expense.
5) Prices for prescription drugs are on the rise. We are all aware of this fact. It hits those citizens that can afford it the least, the hardest. Even the new Medicare prescription card in 2006 will not solve this ongoing dilemma. Why couldn’t we, as a city, once the legal issues are decided, look into making arrangements with Canadian pharmacies to purchase our drugs from them. I know that several cities are already doing this, so it is something that we should watch and learn from.
6) With our municipal airport having its runway enlarged by 1000 feet, it is time to give serious and immediate thought to having a tower built and staffing it in order to help guide aircraft going in and out of Frederick Municipal. With the longer runway, more jets will be able to use the airport, more flights will be occurring, (we do over 155,000 a year now), and the potential for a midair collision or runway incursion will increase sharply. As our city continues to grow, our airport will become more and more important as a vital link for businesses and our city income, and we need to act proactively not reactively.
I bring these ideas to the forefront, in order to get people thinking about current and future issues, which could have an impact on our daily lives. Please feel free to contact me and share your thoughts. They matter.
I pledge to you that I will make my best efforts to keep above the fray and steer clear from the popular practice of ‘trash’ politics, which seems to be a daily staple in our city. Personally, I’ve had enough of the negativity. Haven’t you? Frederick deserves better.
I want to be part of a team that faces up to the challenges confronting us and make a difference that we can all share in and take pride in...a team with integrity, honesty and purpose, that looks to the future and the good it can do our city, which deserves nothing less than the best. Politics doesn’t have to bring out the worst in a candidate who wants to run a negative campaign. Politics should inspire the best and bring out the positive ideas someone wants to do for the people they want to serve.