Letters from students

I thought it might be eye-opening for folks to see what some of our students are learning in our public school system.  This was an open letter sent to me this week, unedited. I’m thankful that students take the time to write, or anyone for that matter and I always try to reply in a timely fashion.

Dear Commissioner Frazier:

As you know your Sectarian prayer openings at public meetings has caused quite a stir among

your constituents throughout the county. The recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Greece,

New York allowing such Sectarian prayer technically allows Sectarian Prayer to open a public

meeting against the original intentions of the founders of this nation, as Thomas Jefferson once

said in a letter to the Danbury Baptists ” I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the

whole American people which declared that their legislature should ” make no law respecting an

establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of

separation between Chuch & State.” your actions are an affront to the original purpose of this

country as a secular nation to be a religious haven for all people not just those who hold a

majority. Of late there has been a demographic shift towards the Liberal side of the political

spectrum and those like me who disagree with your actions are growing in numbers particularly

in the schools. I realize now why it is you wish to defend the public schools, as people become

more educated they are less likely to agree with your Dark age beliefs about gods and

conservatism.

It is in the best interest of everyone involved that you cease opening public meetings with

Sectarian Prayer, as it says in your own Bible, Matthew 6: 5 ” And when you pray, do not be like

the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be

seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” according to the faith

that you follow you are not to pray in public. Another tenet of the Supreme Court ruling is that

you must not deny others of their right to have their prayer open at public meetings; therefore, if

you continue this newly found tradition of opening public meetings with Sectarian Prayer than I

shall be forced to follow the example of a man in Florida who has requested that his town open

the meetings with Satanic Prayer. There are a growing number of individuals who feel quite

similar to me and are also in opposition to your offensive affront to others beliefs and nonbeliefs.

This country was founded with a foundation in freedom of religion that also stands for a

freedom from religion, I implore you now to cease your actions or you may have to soon deal

with another lawsuit from those of us that find the idea of someone like you repulsive.

For your own sake and the sake of all of your constituents it is time for your actions to cease, the

time is right for you to cease this affront to the Constitution and the intentions of the founders by

putting an end to the Sectarian Prayer at public meetings. As both your religion and the founders

of this country said public prayer is not an acceptable action in this country and in the modem

world. You may keep your freedom of religion in your private life but I and those like me have

the right to be free from your religion in public life. Despite what you claimed about the most

recent prayer you opened with being that it was given by George Washington a number of

historians have reviewed this prayer already and found that it was not actually written by him

because of the discrepancies between the prayer and his actual feelings about religion. In short,

it’ s time that you and every other individual who holds a public office to cease public prayer for

the sake of all involved.

D. L. W.

Student, Liberty High School

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier believes Changes to FY15 Budget still needed

CARROLL COUNTY a great place to live, a great place to work, a great place to play

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier believes Changes to FY15 Budget still needed

May 27, 2014 – Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier Wednesday proposed several budgetary cuts which would fund a career ladder for the employees in the Sheriff’s Department. Many of these individuals are newly trained, with contracts coming to an end, and are being courted by neighboring Counties that have recently removed pay freezes. Public Safety, one of government’s undisputed roles, needs to be stable going into a new environment of pressures created by this year’s legislative session. Bills like the decriminalization of marijuana, the “bathroom bill” and a bill that requires the County to provide (24/7) legal representation for anyone appearing before a Court Commissioner, will strain our resources and create new challenges tactically and logistically.

Therefore, it is important that funds are reprioritized in this year’s budget so that on-going costs are paid for with on-going dollars, not-plugged with one-time surpluses. Commissioner Frazier listed the following potential cuts in order to fund the Sheriff Office’s request with recurring funds:

  • Reduce the Commissioners’ Office Budget by $100,000.
  •  Eliminate the $90,000 Transportation Planner Position.
  •  Reduce annual county contributions to OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) by $100,000     which the board unanimously agreed to.
  •  Use cash in place of bonding in order to free up debt service.

There is currently $1.8 Million in unassigned dollars in the county budget. This year Carroll Community College was given an additional $820,000 above the County-budgeted 3% increase for FY15. The additional money came from county surplus funds to pay for $150,000 of salary increases and $670,000 for parking lot security cameras. It is important to note that if cameras and salaries are priorities for the Community College, they have a surplus of $2.5 million that could be used. The cash NOT spent on college salaries and cameras, together with the county unassigned surplus of $1.8 million, totals $2.62M. This money could be used to pay cash for projects in this year’s capital budget instead of borrowing through the bond market. The principle and interest payments on this borrowed money will cost about $262,000. This money represents sufficient dollars to fund the first year of the sheriff’s requested amount of $250,000.

Related to this, the current proposed budget includes 3% for across-the board County government salary increases. Frazier’s proposal is to give employees earning

  • less than $40,000 a 4% increase
  •  $40,000.00 and over a flat $1,000.00 increase, which would range from a 2.5% increase for the employee at $40,000.00 to a 1% increase for the employee making $100,000.00.

These proposals would free up $200,000 of on-going dollars to address the salary adjustments that will likely be needed due to minimum wage increases and reclassifications. In order to address government employee pay scales and classifications, the board unanimously agreed to take $50,000 from the county surplus to hire a consultant to complete that work

Commissioners Howard and Shoemaker proposed to use $1.5M in cash to fill the first three-year gap between revenues and spending, hoping that future years will be covered with projected revenues. That is a gamble. Commissioner Frazier believes that recurring costs should be paid for with recurring revenues. A more prudent way to address recurring costs is to adopt some of the proposed cuts which Commissioner Frazier recommended. These proposed cuts avoid the need to use the reserve-for-contingency fund or use one-time dollars to plug recurring expenditures.

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Please sign the petition to stop the “Bathroom Bill”

By Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier

Thanks to my friend, Delegate Neil Parrott, Chairman of MDPetitions.com, I would like to share this important information with my constituents in Carroll County as well as others across Maryland.

As you probably know, I was one of many who spoke out against the dangerous “Bathroom Bill,” SB 212 ( Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014) Under the guise of “fairness,” this bill forces businesses to allow men to use women’s restrooms, shower rooms, locker rooms, etc. and vice versa if they do no more than claim that they are the opposite sex.  Of course, this creates a serious safety hazard, especially for our women and children.

The new bill defines “gender identity” as “the gender–related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth, which may be demonstrated by: (1) consistent and uniform assertion of the person’s gender identity; or (2) any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity” (emphasis added).  There it is – gender identity must simply be held as part of one’s “core identity”.  No test or requirement.  No way to call out someone who is simply a predator and has just found an easy way to get in the bathroom with your daughter – until it’s too late.   Currently, Maryland law allows for the separation of men’s and women’s facilities in businesses that are open to the public.  There is a reason – protection of privacy and safety.  This bill does not exempt bathrooms – unless the affected business creates an “equivalent space” for those who claim to be the gender that they are not, a provision that could likely be struck down in court.

We need 55,736 valid signatures by June 30th so would you please visit MDPetitions.com today to help stop this bill from becoming Maryland law? Here are a few things you can do to help meet the deadline:

  1. Sign the petition online. (There is no phone number to reach MDPetitions. If you need assistance, please call my office at 410-386-2400 and we will assist you.)  The link is https://mdpetitions.com/
  2. Share with your family, friends, and neighbors:
    1. Email
    2. Post on Facebook
    3. Tweet @MDPetitions  (#bathroombill #notfair #sb212)
    4. Oh, and of course, the old telephone and word of mouth.
  3. Get a volunteer packet from the website and help collect signatures from people you know.

Please don’t let the past losses at the ballot box discourage you! This IS the process we have at this point to take a stand and say, “Enough is enough!”

 Please sign the petition right now, tell your friends about it, and help other people get the petition – time is short and many people don’t know about this absurd bill.

The Proposed Budget Ignores Surpluses, Not the Best Way to Keep Us Strong

Following the presentation of the FY 15 Proposed Budget on Tuesday, April 29, I have outlined some important issues related to the budget which, regrettably, I was unable to support.

Many county agencies, including the County Government, are sitting on healthy fund balances.  The breakdown is as follows:  Public Schools – $15.5M; the Community College – $2M; and Public Libraries – $500,000.  Add that to the $12.6M County surplus and that totals $30.6M tax payer dollars sitting in fund balances.   Also this year, we saved a one-time $2M after a successful exit from the incinerator contract with Frederick giving us a total of $32.6 M.

 In my first administration in the early 90′s,  agency surpluses were returned to the county, which is the local taxing authority. The county has always held reserves for unforeseen costs and emergencies for all agencies and county government. Currently, that amount is 5% of Total Current Revenues, plus 1% Reserve for Contingency which means that 6% of the  county’s total revenues are in reserve.

After my first term subsequent boards signed MOU’s with other agencies allowing them to accumulate surpluses for specific projects. (For example, the Library system was to use their surplus to build the Finksburg Library.) Once the project was completed, the surplus should have been exhausted.  However, today the MOU’s continue and fund balances accumulate without being attached to a specific project. In the FY 15 Proposed Budget, agencies with surpluses have requested additional general fund dollars while they still have large surpluses.

If the county is going to allow agencies to hold their own surpluses, the Memorandum of Understanding should include the requirement to use their own surplus for one-time expenditures before requesting more tax payer’s dollars from the county’s general funds.

To be responsible with tax payer dollars, Commissioner Frazier believes it is important that these surplus dollars be considered in the overall picture. With $32.6M in surpluses Frazier believes that the tax payers deserve more than a $.4M income tax reduction and a one-time $1.8M property tax reduction.