Frederick County Executive Orders: a Dangerous Precedent and Some Good Laughs
On June 4th, 2015 Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner took to the podium to defend Frederick County’s first Executive Order regarding County procurements, where three members of the Ethic Board resigned. The Executive Order essentially banned any Council Member to bid on County work. At first glance it may seem like a good idea, and there are very good arguments for it, however in Charter Government the Council is responsible for passing legislation NOT the County Executive.
The reason of concern is not the intent of the Executive Order but the Executive Order itself. No where in the County Charter does it authorize the County Executive the power to issue Executive Orders.
Executive Gardner issued several absurd comparisons in her press conference likening an Executive Order with issuing a State of Emergency for bad weather. Not only did she compare an Executive Order to a weather event, but she double downed giving examples of weather emergencies where former County Commissioners (including herself) issued them for snow and storms.
Pardon my ignorance but I forget how a snowstorm is similar to a political agenda…oops I meant policy.
Executive Gardner further builds her straw man by stating that the Charter in Sections 401 and 402 give her the ability to do so. This is quite laughable as the only thing close to wording of “Executive Order” is that the County Executive is to “recommend to the Council such measures for legislative action that the Executive may consider to be the best interest of the County”
OK fine so maybe I’m a cynic. Maybe her argument is in section 402(a) which states:
Supervising and directing offices, agencies and divisions of the executive branch and ensuring that County employees as well as County boards and commissions faithfully perform their duties;
She then went on to cite what other County Executives have done. I wasn’t aware the “mom my friends are doing it why can’t I?” excuse worked.
It gets even better. She defends her position by stating the County
yes man Attorney (which works for her) says its ok. Not to mention that County Council Bud Ottis has told the Council that the Council doesn’t need independent representation.
Again, the intent of the Executive Order has valid arguments, however the Executive Order itself is dangerous. The Charter in Frederick County designed a system of checks and balances to ensure that the Council were the only ones that could create legislation and the Executive was the one running the business end. We are seeing a shift in County Governments where the Executive is pushing for more power than they were intended to have. Remind you of any other Political office?
The first ever Frederick County Council, led by Council President Bud Ottis, is establishing a fantastic precedent…..castration of power. Supporters of Jan Gardner need to remember that this may seem like a ” no issue” but wait till the political winds change. If Executive Gardner were a Republican I would still be on the bell tower yelling “the British are coming”.
It’s time for the Frederick County Council to put on their big boy pants and stop the power grab.