County's job turnover puzzling, alarming I would like...

Carroll letters to the editor

July 28, 2002

County's job turnover puzzling, alarming

I would like to respond to an article written in this newspaper, "Tense feelings surface in county government" (July 4). It isn't a mystery that personnel relations in county government have been shaky over the past four years. With the resignation of one-third of the department heads, at the very least we can label the situation puzzling. A more apt term, however, would be alarming.

Although department heads serve "at the pleasure" of the commissioners, the criteria set for dismissing employees needs to come under scrutiny. Do they receive warnings or reprimands for misconduct, or are they suddenly handed their pink slips while seemingly fulfilling their duties? One cannot help but wonder if a hidden agenda exists.

I would like to think that the county is deliberate in their efforts to hire people who are capable of running our government. Several of the departed employees had served under several boards and had years of county service. When at least two of these people are told to resign without an explanation, we must turn our eyes to management. What went wrong with the situation that could not have been handled in a more professional and diligent manner? It has to be disconcerting to staff that are working under these department heads when they suddenly are removed from their leadership positions without any explanation to anyone. This certainly does not instill a feeling of stability.

Character building has been a part of the curriculum for county government workers for the past several years. I would think this daily practice would stress out anyone. Not only do I question the need to instill character traits in people we assume hold those traits in order to obtain their positions in the first place, but the real question becomes who is interpreting the traits, and how do people know when they have reached an approved level? Who is in charge of indoctrination? Talk about micromanaging! This entire procedure needs to be overhauled, or better yet deleted from the agenda.

I have known or have dealt with many of the department heads in question. At no time have I seen any of them be anything but professional in the public arena. They have always been courteous and above board. I have never witnessed a lack of character.

County employees are at the mercy of their leadership. Strong leaders develop strong relationships with those who serve them. Strong leaders solve problems as they occur. Strong leaders give guidance. Strong leaders realize that they are not only there to lead, but to serve the needs of the people. The strength of the county staff comes from the strength of those who lead.

The dismissal of key employees from county government should certainly come under scrutiny. Programming of character as a means to somehow condition the county employees seems to me misguided, considering who is leading the effort. If the county wants to continue instilling character traits, they might want to make the trait of leadership their top priority. The only problem I foresee is who would teach the class.

Betty Smith

Westminister

Towns must commit to controlling growth

You cannot have a law where only certain areas will have to obey. The towns are exempt from the Concurrency Management Ordinance, and the commissioners have no control over towns in this regard. You can dance around this issue all you want, but unless the towns agree to commit, you have nothing as per total controlled growth.

Does the ordinance have or ever had the authority to control growth in the county as a whole? No. Can the county stop property rights without just cause for greater than a reasonable length of time? No. Can you declare a "building moratorium without just cause"? No. The county tried that in 1997 and lost in court. Can you cut the building permits and future taxpayer's income and fall below the fiscal need to maintain the level of service required? Yes, but you would have to raise taxes to make up the difference. Is this what the people of Carroll County want?

Ed Wheatley

Member of Planning and Zoning Commission

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