From Joan Ryder:
Harford County Executive David R. Craig answered my request for information on August 13th 2012. His response was also published in the August 17th issue of the AEGIS. I very much appreciate the County Executive taking the time away from his other duties to answer my request. Although it was a brief response it said a lot, and was even more informative in what was omitted. I do feel obligated to add some clarity to his response.
First I never claimed that my committee was fiscally responsible. Although I consider myself to be fiscally responsible, that responsibility extends exclusively to my personal finances. My committee is for fiscal responsibility. The purpose of the committee is to observe Harford County’s activities and to determine whether they are fiscally responsible. Although the language may be confusing to some people, there is a very large difference between an entity, that is for fiscal responsibility, like my committee and one which should be fiscally responsible, like Harford County. I hope that no one else was confused by the nuances.
Second, the County Council has a well defined role in Harford County government. While they enact the budget and other pieces of legislation, directly related to taxing, funding s and expenditures for the county, most of those actions are taken at the request of the County Executive. They exercise fiscal responsibility through their legislative actions, not through any management functions. The basis for fiscal responsibility though is squarely vested in the County administration, under control of the County Executive. If the County Executive does not demonstrate sufficient fiscal responsibility, the County Council, while not completely powerless, cannot readily affect a change.
Third. The County Executive’s description of my committee as covert capitalist has a catchy ring. That derisive description sounds very much like a former speaker of the House of Representatives describing the TEA party movement as Astroturf. She may still be wondering why she is no longer Speaker of the House. Some people never learn life’s lessons. My committee is not comprised of covert capitalists. Each member has been fully vetted. I can state unequivocally that we are all unabashed capitalists. We believe fully in the free enterprise system and entrepreneurial spirit that made this country and the county the great places that they are. A place where people recognized that there hard work and ingenuity would be rewarded with success. The place where people did not wait for a government incentive to move in and get started. The place where people paid their taxes and with others built government, not the other way around.
Fourth. I acknowledge the many fine actions taken by the County Council I do not fully agree with all of them all of the time, and I appreciate the opportunity to let them know when I do not. I was most pleased with the County Council acted on its own, without any request by the County Executive, to reduce the real and consequently the personal tax rates and the homestead tax credit a few years ago. Their actions served as a model for the County Executive to follow the next year, They are limited however to a great extent in how open and transparent they can be, based on the information that they are provided. Hopefully, my committee and all similar groups who desire to participate more actively in the function of their government will be able to bring about even more openness and transparency.
Finally, as I said I acknowledge the actions of the members of County Council on behalf of Harford County’s residents. I do not believe that any of them will claim that they built the economy of the county. The County Council actions may have contributed to Harford County’s economy, but other than paying their own taxes, it did nothing to generate the funds for the grants, loans and tax credits distributed by the Office of Economic Development. The reality is that Harford County’s economy is based on entrepreneurs who do not seek a handout. The bakery’s, the feed stores, the hardware stores, car dealers, and real estate agents and all the property owners and wage earners and entrepreneurs, who don’t get a handout. Who make a product or provide a service, or build something and hope to make a profit or a wage. Who pay real income taxes, real property taxes and personal property taxes? Who pay wages and social security taxes who pay unemployment taxes, in addition to paying fees purchasing licenses, and certificates and permits to operate, who pay utility bills, who provide health insurance and donate to charity. And who at the end of the day hope that they have enough money left over to take care or their own families. And then worry that they may not have enough strength and, and enough energy to go back the next day for another round of the same. These are the people who built and sustain Harford County’s economy and its government. Any person who would think otherwise would believe that these people didn’t do it themselves, and could not seriously endorse Mitt Romney for president.
The County Executive did not answer my questions, or even suggest a process for obtaining the information I asked for. It is surprising that he would spend so many millions of tax dollars on Information Technology and not understand its purpose is to provide information at an accelerated pace, not hide it away. I will now be pursuing the information through the Freedom of Information Act.
Finally in light of Mr. Chris Street’s statement in his defense of the Economic Development Advisory Boards activities, and the provisions of the recently enacted bill 12-19, I am requesting an interpretation from the State’s Attorney on the propriety and legality of nongovernment personnel controlling county funds, the bonding and indemnity issues associated with that practice and whether the Economic Development Advisory Board has exceed its authority for having done so and what if any punitive measures are required. I will also address these issues with my Councilman.
Editor’s Note: A copy of Craig’s letter to Ryder is provided below.