Sunday, June 22, 2014

Accomplishments to Date

The top issue we must address in Cecil County is substance abuse.  This issue affects so many other parts of our community including crime, education, economic development and ultimately the vitality of our county.  I have discovered that the problem is much deeper than citizens realize and it will need to be addressed in many areas including all 3 levels of government.  The Pharmaceutical industry is the largest lobbiest by far in DC and their influence on government is staggering.  


  • I have been proactive in looking for solutions.  To address drug treatment, I have pursued best evidence practices and continue to advocate for performance measures that accurately reflect successful treatment and recovery.  Currently the logjam to recovery is due to the Governor’s decision to decrease funding to the Whittsit Center in Kent County by $500,000 which created a waiting list of close to 6 months and the clients are usually referred to methadone maintenance.  
  • Requested the State provide the data they claim they have that backs up the effectiveness of the methadone maintenance programs in Cecil County.  - Still waiting.
  • To address drug trafficking, we recently received  the HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Designation which I have been credited with spearheading.  As a result, we also received a Maryland Safe Street Grant as the State’s contribution towards Hidta.    
  • While Maryland finally adopted a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, I support making it mandatory for doctors to report for accountability and enforcement.  
  • Maryland Board of Physicians -  Contacted Director to update information on pill mill doctors.  Support stronger enforcement. 
  • I led the Cecil County Council to support the  Good Samaritan Law which passed during the 2014 Session.   
  • Studies have proven that education is effective in preventing substance abuse and I have organized 10 drug awareness forums across the County.  
  • Currently I am advocating for a more efficient and responsive Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council that allows the community to participate as was intended.  

Regarding fiscal responsibility, who has been more aggressive?  The first year of my term, Cecil County adopted a tax rate below the constant yield and we have recently been awarded an increase in our bond rating from AA to AA+.   Also, I have objected to expensive, exorbitant projects we don’t need as well as irresponsible funding.


  • Opposed FY 2015 Budget.  Irresponsible increase in spending when we are collecting tax property revenue, still recovering from recession, and increased costs from the State.  
  • Opposed the authorization to increase long term debt by $70 million which increased our long term debt to it’s highest level ever of $210 million.  By consuming our borrowing capacity today, we are more vulnerable to compromising our bond rating.  This later could increase our interest rate and we would lose opportunities to invest in promising projects for tomorrow.
  • Opposed the $20 million in additional cost for GE Zenon System at Seneca Point Treatment Plant which yielded no extra capacity .  The much cheaper denitrification system had been approved by MDE.   
  • Aggressively fought toll increases in 2011 and again in 2014 while other elected representatives thought we should negotiate road deals.  As a County Commissioner I introduced a Resolution, which was unanimously passed, to pursue relief to the impact of the tolls on our County.  The latest scheme by MdTA was to put All Electronic Tolling in place which would have increased costs for visitors  by 50%.   I was proactive in getting the news out on Fox 45, the Cecil Whig, and testified in the General Assembly twice resulting successfully saving our cash tolls for now. 
  • Consistently objected to the taxpayers footing the bill for road and infrastructure improvements that that developers should have funded such as Razor Strap Road.  Also, the taxpayers will be footing the bill for Muddy Lane improvements after the majority on the Board approved the Town of Elkton’s annexation of property for an apartment complex. I proposed only approving if the Town also accepted responsibility for Muddy Lane. Our attorney at the time was Norm Wilson who also represented the Town of Elkton.  He advised that we couldn’t tie the acceptance of the road with the annexation request.  After I asked if he was representing the town or the county when he answered that question, he recused himself.
  • Opposed the Wastewater Sewer Plan which is overly ambitious and expensive, putting the burden of the Port Deposit Interceptor Project and other long term projects on the current rate payers.  When the rates and hook up fees can no longer cover the cost, ad valorem kicks in and all the tax payers are on the hook.  I support infrastructure investment but the rates should not include projects that go past the 3 year scope. 
  • Opposed the infrastructure overhaul in the Old Elk Neck  priority preservation area. I only supported the bridge replacement on Old Elk Neck Road.
  • Fought the effort to change the County Seal.  I requested that the Cecil Whig conduct a poll on who supported changing our Cecil County Seal.  Overwhelmingly the public supported the current seal and agreed with me that it was a waste of time and money to have it changed.
  •  I proposed an amendment to the Basell Purchase that the members of an LLC would have to be revealed when taxpayer dollars were being used to ensure no conflict of interest.  Once again, the Cecil Whig conducted a poll and overwhelmingly the citizens agreed.. It was of no concern to the County Executive nor the majority of the County Council that the LLC had pocketed a profit of over $4 million dollars after 90 days of ownership.  They disapproved my request for disclosure even after revelations that Larry Haislip was the one submitting the paperwork for the Appleton Road Business Trust LLC.  He was the attorney who also represented Cecil County on the Artesian deal and the failed North East Water lawsuit, and was a campaign contributor to Robert Hodge.  Coincidentally, the purchase of this property took place after the County Executive was elected and secured the majority vote on the County Council.
  • Introduced the Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee.  Since it was first introduced in 2011, the Committee has grown from 5 to 7 members.  They are willing to donate their time to research County spending issues and provide guidance on the capital and operation budgets proposed for the next year.  There is a  University of Delaware Finance Professor, a Federal Budget Analyst, and Accountant and two small business owners.  Their research and input is helpful during the deliberation process and they contribute their time to the County as concerned citizens.  
  • Support promoting programs that require little investment but have a large return. During these fiscally challenging times, there are limited resources and instead of saying no, sometimes its encouraging to think of what we can do. While our resources are limited, I believe we can do positive things in our schools to address some of the concerns.  Because drug abuse is one of the largest threats our students are facing, I have promoted drug awareness workshops and forums (10) as well as Heroin Hurts presentations to our 8th graders. For students in the accelerated learning program I have supported the Career Blast Program which is in partnership with Cecil College.  I approached Michael Ratchford of W.L. Gore, currently the Chair Economic Development, for support of the Career Blast Program. I never expected the donation to be so generous but he agreed to make a contribution of $10,000 for three years which helps keep our brightest students on track to later qualify for the STEM Program.  
  • I proposed that the Cecil County Library System because a part of the  Box Top Collection Program at each of their locations.  This past year they collected over $1,000 worth of box tops for the public schools. 
  • Regarding deferred maintenance on our schools, I asked D'ette Devine if we could possibly make a list of all of the projects that are outstanding and explore which of these projects could be completed with volunteer hours.  On some of the repairs we will have to follow strict guidelines but she agreed there could be an opportunity for requesting volunteer assistance.  
  • In good conscience, I could not support purchasing the Basell Property because I did not believe it was fiscally responsible. I have shared my reasons publicly before and will forward if requested. However, what I did support was accommodating the 150+ waiting list by exploring options at the existing location with the investment in modulars (better quality than portables).  It was also suggested that the School of Technology could even design and build on site. We could then relocate those programs that don't have to be in the main building and when our population starts to increase once again and the State is ready to help fund the Comprehensive High School, we can relocate the modulars to another school location. 
  • For the same reason, I could not support the Calvert Regional Park Investment.  While I recommended the concept to the Parks and Recreation Committee, it was intended to only be business plan to grow as the department was normally funded and to also invest volunteer hours similar to the Cecil Soccer Tournaments.    


  • Sludge spreading applications - Demanded proper public meetings to address citizen’s concerns.  Passed legislation for additional notification and local oversight. 
  • Notified surrounding property owners of the proposed Marc Layover Facility and empowered them to fight for their property rights.   
  • Opposed property rezonings such as the MITA Property in North East.  If there is no change of character and no mistake in Comprehensive Plan, it‘s not justified and it compromises individual property rights in the area.  
  • Proposed a Tier Map that didn’t change our zoning or current density which was originally adopted by the Cecil County Comprehensive Plan Committee.  


  • I  have also been a strong advocate for increased transparency, disclosure and increased protection for the Ethics Commission.
  • Successfully passed in the beginning of my administration that all meetings be audio recorded to provide a permanent record which could not be altered.
  • Currently, the Charter allows for the most powerful person in the County to remove appointments at her discretion.  Removing an ethics commission member without cause opens the door to undue political influence and could ultimately lead to unbridled corruption.   Charter in my opinion is a failure.  Less transparency, less accountability, increased spending, increased representation to special interests.  How can one attorney represent the County executive who appoints the position and signs his paycheck, also represent the Council and the Ethics Commission.  The Checks and Balances have been effectively removed and I don’t believe this is the type of government the citizens were promised or voted for.
  • Exposed the Misrepresentation of our Local Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council.
  • Successfully argued that the Cecil Guardian was not a newspaper of General Circulation as a Commissioner after doing the research with the United States Postal Service that contradicted the research conducted by Attorney Norm Wilson.  However, the County Executive chose to ignore that information after she was elected and now recognizes the Cecil Guardian as a newspaper of general circulation despite the fact that they are a free newspaper that has never disclosed their owners which, in my opinion, would clearly disqualify them.  This contradicts the Maryland State Law which says a newspaper of general circulation cannot be a free newspaper. 
  • I support hiring an inhouse auditor that would provide credible research to make informed decisions and to provide “real” information on concerns.   The information provided would be effective in curtailing wasteful spending.  Currently the Council is not getting unbiased, financial data from the Finance Director who is employed by the County Executive.
  • Support implementing effective performance measures in order to justify financing of programs.