Politicizing Youth Offenders
The politicizing of the proposed "Children's Center" in Waldorf is disappointing. Comments like "I will lay down in front of the bulldozers before I will allow the site to be built in Waldorf" as made by Delegate C.T. Wilson serve no purpose and are disrespectful to the Secretary of the Dept. of Juvenile Services. Statements by Commissioners at Town Hall Meetings and in Press Releases expressing support for Hughesville as the alternate location are premature, unfortunate and unfair to Hughesville residents. They deserve the same courtesy as we have extended to other regions of the county.
Our role as elected officials should be cautious and protective of our citizens' safety and property values. Particularly, at the local level, we need to work with DJS to ensure that our citizens receive as much information as possible. Thereafter, we must insist that our citizens are engaged as advisers in the design, build-out, security and operation of any facility.
In the very heart of La Plata, we have a Detention Center that has been in place for 20+ years. Serious county criminals are housed there as well as federal prisoners. This facility is next door to a senior housing facility and a "stone's throw" from a church, preschool and elementary school. I am not suggesting this is ideal, but I am suggesting that if we can co-exist with a a facility housing real, adult criminals, surely, we can identify a location for youth who are pending trial.
Through this entire discussion we seem to have forgotten, that first and foremost, these are our children. The scheduled Press Conference has been touted as a show of solidarity with the adjoining communities. We don't need solidarity - we need leadership. Be part of the solution.
And speaking of solutions - Meet Chaplain John Lewis -
- Maryland Independent - April 8, 2011
Chaplain Lewis knows how to inspire and motivate and most importantly he is a man with the 3 P's, passion, positive energy and purpose. He has dedicated his life and time to prison ministry. Below is a link to an article about Chaplain Lewis but here's what I think ... John Lewis does "great" things because he gives men and women skills, mentoring and hope. He knows that no man is an island and he has done an amazing job with outreach. Just yesterday he hosted a successful event at the Holiday Inn Express in La Plata. Those in attendance were the expected government and law enforcement types, but to his credit, his core group consists of leaders from the University of Maryland Extension Service, Charles County Public Library and civic groups like the Waldorf Rotary. Chaplain Lewis understands that our incarcerated citizens may be shut away, but they can't be forgotten. Thank you Chaplain Lews!
Planning Commission is Broken
Months ago, I called for the Board to intervene with regard to the Planning Commission. This was considered a personnel matter and therefore handled in Closed Session.
Almost 5 months later, no action has been taken. My call for action has been met with reticence by some of my colleagues. Week after week our staff and the public are subjected to a circus like atmosphere where science, data and information are held in disdain. Four Planning Commission members have determined that they know more than any expert on land use planning and that the 2006 failed Plan is a great template to extend into the future. There is a big difference between a County Commissioner trying to influence Planning Commission decisions and a County Commissioner standing up and speaking out when an appointed board is "broken". I am conscientiously doing that latter.
Those who would support smart growth and prudent planning practices are denounced as "environmentalists" who would trample and ignore the property rights of our citizens. Certain Planning Commission members carry this torch forward to enrage and frighten farmers and others because after all, who would not stand for property rights. It's what our country was founded on. But this isn't about property rights for you and me and the average citizen ... this argument is a smoke screen for a handful of wealthy developers. The Planning Commission has had in it's power for years the ability to develop a viable Transfer of Developer Rights and Public Transfer of Developer Rights Program. Such a program would compensate land owners in an equitable manner and protect agricultural lands and forests.
You will hear that it's impossible to establish such programs in Charles County because of St. Charles and Docket 90 which guarantees St. Charles' developers 300 units per year. Charles County has historically developed 1000 units per year - even with St. Charles' 300 - there are still 700 left to go around which demonstrates that this argument has no merit.
Planning Commission members Grasso and Richards have penned letters to the editor and made public statements sharing their personal opinions and positions. They were appointed to carry out the policies and laws of the State and County and to accept the best planning data, science, tools and practices as they work to develop a future plan. Their personal ideology should play no role in their deliberations and discussions.
The reports of ex parte communications and "too cozy" relationships are an embarrassment. The reports of parties who stand to gain financially, texting and emailing information and talking points to Planning Commission members, are viewed as tawdry and are questioned as signs of possible corruption.
Our County deserves better and our future is at stake. I want to see change and soon.
What about texting?