…but YES to Time Limits.
At long last, the tool to slow down the out-of-control Montgomery County Council is at hand. The 9-member council is an exclusive club—all 9 are Democrat Party loyalists. There are no Republicans; no Independents; no Green, Constitution, or Labor Party members; and absolutely no creative thinking. Just Democrats.
Like all Democrats, The Nine agree on almost everything, except how much they deserve to be paid. And like Democrats everywhere, The Nine tirelessly tinker with the lives of the people who pay their salaries. They’ve even created 20 intrusive agencies to help them out.
Do you want to add a driveway at your house? You need to get approval, a zoning permit, and pay a hefty fee.
Do you want to cut down a tree in your own back yard? You need to get a permit, bureaucratic approval and of course, pay a hefty fee.
Want to add a bathroom to your house? You need to get construction, plumbing, and electrical permits; construction approval and of course, pay hefty fees for each.
But don’t forget to shovel your walk after it snows—or you get a ticket and a big fine.
Accidentally put your recycling into the wrong trash can on Trash Day? You face a ticket and a fine.
And don’t forget to rake your leaves out into the street for the scheduled County Leaf-Pick-Up-Day in the Fall. Dry leaves are a serious fire hazard, ya know. Oh wait—that was last year’s law. The Nine changed it so you have to rake you leaves, but only to the edge of the street. They found out the hard way that all those leaves piled in the street were starting fires underneath hot cars when residents parked on top of dry leaves. Oops!
They required every home to have hard-wired smoke detectors installed in all new construction. It was a backup safety measure because they beleived that residents were too dumb to remember to change the batteries. But this year they changed their minds, and are now requiring all hard-wired smoke detectors be removed and replaced by only battery-powered units.
This council requires every home to have an expensive “radon-dissipation system” to assure that no county resident dies of radon poisoning. Even though there has never been a radon-poisoning-death recorded anywhere in the United States—ever.
Did your 10-year-old daughter set up a card table in your front yard and eagerly try to sell lemonade to the neighbors?
That will cost her thrice: a fine for not having a business permit; not having a food-service-permit; and the possibility of arrest. Not to mention shattering her enthusiasm.
Trying to update your business and need to fix the parking lot? You must schedule a public hearing, get county approval, then pay for a permit, submit architectural plans showing where the curbs will be located including width and length, prove that rain-storm run-off is environmentally friendly, get that approved, have the lot repaved, then get the work approved by a leisurely county inspector who will never arrive on time, and of course, pay a hefty permitting fee.
This council banned paper grocery bags because they were bad for the environment. Grocery stores obediently adjusted and started using free plastic grocery bags. Then the council decided that free plastic bags were bad for the environment, so they imposed a tax on any grocery store customer foolish enough to want to carry their groceries
out of the store. They even required the grocery stores to reprogram all their cash registers to collect a 5-cent-tax for each plastic bag used—and the stores have to collect the tax for the county! Only Montgomery County could come up with a scheme to tax its own citizens before they get to leave the grocery store.
Don’t send you kids out to play at the park down the street; they will be arrested; you will be fined; and a County Social Worker escorted by a policeman will come to your home and interrogate you about potential child neglect.
How about the idea of banning smoking in your own home—unless you live on a plot of at least one-acre. That leaves only the wealthy who own large lots in Potomac or Avenel who could smoke in their own homes.
Or how about their legendary idea requiring all pet cats to be leashed…?
These are just a few examples of what our County Council does all day. They simply make up schemes to justify their existence.
But here is the best example of the County Council’s use of its time: last year the nine member council unanimously voted themselves a juicy raise to $136,258 by January 1, 2017. And this is in a county where the median income for a 4 person family is $70,150. They decided to pay themselves almost twice what their average resident taxpayer
For over a quarter century, the most grumbled question about Montgomery County governance has been, who is serving whom…?
The problem with our local government is that they spend much of the year meddling with nonsense, making mountains out of mole hills, and banning common sense in the sole mission to justify their jobs and eye-popping pay checks. Check out the biographies of the 9 council members. 6 of the 9 members have held these offices since Bill Clinton was president.
As the Term Limits campaign proves, once elected to office in Montgomery County, it is impossible to unseat a sitting member—it’s a job for life!
This is why all 9 current council members are against the Term Limits Amendment.
So what is the realistic solution?
The goal to limit the terms of these perennial bureaucrats deserves great praise. But the smarter constitutional amendment is to limit their time on the job each year.
They should be allowed 30 days to do their job: pass a budget, deal with long-term fiduciary responsibilities, settle long-term zoning issues, then go home—and leave us alone.
The Maryland State Legislature meets for 90 days every year. Period. And somehow they manage to run the entire state.
The Texas State Legislature meets for 90 days—every other year.And Texas is the sole economic success story of the past decade.
Why does the Montgomery County Council need to meet every work day of the year? Are they that much more important? Do they accomplish that much more?
Just because you show up at a bureaucratic job every day and make sure your press secretary gets you on the TV news or into the newspaper every week so you look busy doesn’t mean you are actually doing something productive. Those nine council members have proven this year in and year out.
The Term Limits Amendment is a brave start, but the end goal should be to limit their time in office each year to 30 days. Such a law would require them to focus on their real duties; not squander time on the fabricated and illogical issues which consume their time throughout the year.
If they choose to work all 30 days great; if not, it would be an added bonus to the people of Montgomery County.
–The Beltway Bandit