Letters to the Editor, June 5, 2019

Cambridge City
Government Works.
What about Dorchester County?

I am concerned and dismayed by the recent string of seemingly arbitrary personnel decisions made by the Dorchester County Council, clearly driven by the newest members of the Council, given the voting records. One wonders if they think they will be saving us money by not having any administrators at all, leaving hard-working staff in a leadership void, and likely discouraging other competent people from coming to this county. These new County Council members have a lot to learn, and quickly, about public administration, transparency, and accountability. They can and should seek out best practices from other county governments, but they could also learn a lot from the City of Cambridge and some of the other towns around the county.

In the years I have lived here, I have observed the City of Cambridge demonstrating both effectiveness and efficiency. (For those of you unfamiliar with the difference between these terms, effectiveness is “doing the right thing” and efficiency is “doing the thing right.”)

For example, while walking my dogs in the neighborhood, I noticed a street sign with sharp edges on a corner that was placed such that people were running into it. I used the website, choosecambridge.com, to submit a description of the problem and where it was. I also noticed a telephone pole that had raw wire coming out of its cover at the sidewalk level. I submitted that as well. Within 24 hours I received an email response from the Department of Public Works about both issues. Within 2 days the sign had been fixed, and we were informed that the second problem was referred to the phone company, who also fixed that. This is a city that seems to be striving to serve its citizens.

Transparency is paramount in getting citizen support for well-thought out decisions. The website offers citizens a wealth of information about how our City Government works. On the website, we can see when meetings are scheduled and can download agendas and minutes from previous meetings. We can attend meetings and know there will be structured opportunities to speak. The agendas are consent agendas, a standard best practice for public organizations, meaning everyone discusses and agrees before the meeting starts what will be on the agenda or not. Agenda items are not arbitrarily added or dropped in the middle of the meeting without consensus.

Because the City now videotapes several of the regular meetings, we can also view the meetings from home, as well as review them later, which I have done myself, at townhallstreams.com/towns/cambridgemd. This is an excellent use of my tax dollars.

We can see the open, systematic processes that the Commissioners use to identify issues, solicit input, and make decisions based on that input, as well as on expert knowledge. The recent budget process is a good example. My experience at attending and speaking at meetings is that commissioners listen carefully to citizen comments and to each other. It is very refreshing to see disagreements discussed and resolved with civility and mutual respect.

Of course, there are always opportunities for improvement. The City of Cambridge demonstrates good faith efforts to continue to improve transparency, accountability, and systematic approaches to planning, budgeting, and decision-making, based on data, expert knowledge, and citizen input. The Dorchester County Council could surely learn a lot from this. If all the County Council wants to do is slash costs, we will get what we pay for.
Catherine Beise
Cambridge


Local group responds
to Board of Education

Dear President Glen L. Bramble:
In the board meeting on May 16, 2019 reviewing the data from one of the finalist, we are concerned that this is what we will be promoting for our county:

• Out of 814 students in 2017 to 2018 in ELA that only 161 met standard and 632 did not meet their standards.

• Also in math 46 students met standards and 766 did not meet their standards.

• From 2016 to 2018 more students failed to meet standards with attendance at 84 percent (684), so kids are coming to school but, they are not learning.

These are just a few failures from information presented at this board meeting.
Sincerely,
Members of Concern Citizens
of Dorchester County
Hurlock

Dear Board Members:

If there are any attempts to give the principal of Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, Mr. David Bromwell, the position of interim superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools, this organization will file for ex parte relief in the Circuit Court of Dorchester County immediately.

Sincerely,
Members of the Concerned
Citizens of Dorchester County
Hurlock

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