Ecker team sharply criticizes Howard County management

December 05, 1990|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

Howard County's managers and employees are poorly trained to perform their jobs, according to an interim report by Executive Charles I. Ecker's transition team released yesterday.

The 108-member transition team recommended "an aggressive" training program and a reorganization of the government's top-level management positions, many of which were found to be "ill-defined."

"Apparently, good management techniques were not priorities of prior administrations," Michael W. Davis, a Columbia lawyer and co-chairman of the team, said in the report. "We cannot let that practice continue."

"Generally," the report added, "it appears that training has been sorely neglected. We have managers who have never been trained in effective management techniques. We have employees who have not been given adequate training to do their jobs."

The report recommended establishing a "quality management" program designed to make employees more "people-oriented."

The transition team also said the Police Department's operations should be reviewed by a blue-ribbon community panel.

"There is concern by many of the members of the public interviewed that there are attitudinal problems on the part of the department," Mr. Davis said. "Hopefully, the panel will find out whether the problems are just perception or are actual reality."

In the county fire service, the transition team found that "the lines of command are not clear between the volunteers and career personnel," Mr. Davis said. "Each of the groups think the other is trying to sabotage them. It has become a nasty situation, at least in some of the districts. There should be a process to get them to work together."

The transition team suggested that the executive establish a committee to investigate problems between the career and volunteer firefighters and place an advocate for the volunteers on the fire administrator's staff.

The team also recommended:

* Developing a plan for dealing with drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse.

* Preparing transportation and economic development plans and elevating the Office of Economic Development to departmental status.

* Disbanding the newly formed Department of General Services and cutting back the county executive's staff.

* Identifying opportunities to build low- and moderate-income housing.

* Deciding whether the county should make $25,000 in improvements to Cedar Lane Park in Columbia to keep the Maryland Bays soccer team there.

* Deciding whether the county should buy 1,000 acres in the Middle Patuxent Environment area in West Columbia from the Rouse Co. and acquire Kiwanis Park in Ellicott City.

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