Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

I am a member of the board of Citizens for a Better Charles County. CBCC is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization committed to working on issues that are important to the future of the county.

I recently attended the CBCC forum on forms of government. I was impressed at both the turnout and the seriousness of the attendees with regard to this somewhat arcane issue.

CBCC has taken no position on this issue, being satisfied to leave it to the citizens of the county and their elected officials. I, however, must say that I believe that the case was made for the countyís considering moving to a charter form of government.

Having observed, over the past year or so, the actions of the commissioners regarding the prerogatives of the president of the commissioners, I believe that it is clear that the separation of executive and legislative functions of county government is needed in Charles County.

The charter form of government with a professional executive branch headed by a county executive is the appropriate form of government for a county that is becoming more and more urban every year.

Among the issues that appear to be obvious to me is the lack of clear leadership for the countyís department heads, who frequently are concerned with what the commissioners want. I have seen this personally with both the Planning and Growth Management department and their relationship with the planning commission and the Department of Community Services and its relationship with the new commissioner-led anti-poverty program. I believe that in both of these areas, a strong executive would provide the citizens of the county better leadership than the diffused, which has the majority, process we have now with five executives leading with a 3-to-2 majority.

The Nov. 30 issue of the Maryland Independent reported that both Peter Aluotto, planning director, and Frank Ward, chief of codes, permits and inspections, were before the county commissioners hearing complaints over delays. Both men rightly asserted that they were getting mixed messages from the commissioners. Reporting to a five-person committee is bad enough, but when the five donít agree, it is even harder.

I ask that the commissioners put the form of government issue on your agenda, discuss a transition to charter government and put the issue on the ballot for the next commissioner election.

In order for that to happen, you will need to appoint a committee to draft a charter to be considered. That committee would need to be made up of concerned citizens and should start work early in 2013.

Ted Baker, Nanjemoy