Voices From The Readers – January 12, 2024

Voices From The Readers – January 12, 2024

Commissioner Off Base With BOE Accusations


(The following letter was addressed to Worcester County Commissioner Eric Fiori.)

I read your “thoughts and reasoning into your vote” to not fully fund the school budget but to merely vote for MOE (Maintenance of Effort). You stated that the topic was “A New $37 million BOE Admin/Office Building”. We both agree that there are far more pressing issues. In fact, it is not an issue at all because there is no present movement by anyone to pursue this. Since the early 2000’s, when Worcester County built their new office building behind the courthouse, it was also noted that at some point the old BOE building built in 1955, would eventually need to be replaced. It was also serving as the Vo Tech School at that point.

Since then, it has been identified in the budget under long term planning as a form of placeholder to remind everyone that at some point the aging facility will need to be replaced. To try to justify your vote because of this supposed topic is not being honest with the public.

Further, you mentioned that the BOE budget has “little transparency and less accuracy.” Such an accusation is serious and again not being honest with the public. Yes, there was a $1.5 million dollar surplus, which is only 1% of the budget. It is normal to have a surplus, sometimes it was $800,000; sometimes less, sometimes a million. In fact by law, the surplus must be $567,000 at present because the state will never allow the school to be in the red.

The BOE must always keep a surplus to meet unexpected expenses such as when we had the polar vortex and our energy bills skyrocketed. This surplus was not just discovered. In fact, the normal procedure each year is for the BOE to go to the County Commissioners and notify them of the amount of the surplus and submit requests for how some of that surplus could be used, say for a new field. This year, the BOE requested that some of the surplus be used to backfill things that were cut due to the last MOE budget.

Because the MOE budget does not meet the growing needs and the growing populations in our schools, the MOE budget will provide about $280,000 less than the school system got this year, resulting in a budget shortfall of $4.4 million. The County Commissioners denied their request. Instead, at least some of the money will be directed towards post employment needs per OPEB.

With respect to transparency, it is important for the public to understand that previously the standard procedure was for the BOE to submit their budget by appropriating money to categories and sub-categories, not by line item. To imply otherwise is impugning the character and intent of the BOE. A line-item budget is not required by state law and was not asked for at the beginning of this school year. Upon being asked to complete a line item budget the BOE CFO Vince Tolbert, set out to do so in his very competent way. (Mr. Tolbert is the most senior CFO in Maryland schools and was previously the assistant county treasurer.)

Whether feathers were

ruffled by members of the County Commissioners and BOE members over lack of fully funding, over lack of using surplus to backfill positions, or because additional requests were requested late in the game, the public doesn’t care. We expect the County Commissioners and BOE (who all work extremely hard) to overcome their personal differences to ensure that they work together to meet the needs of their citizens and that means fully funding the BOE budget.

In closing, I applaud your work towards getting funding for a new Buckingham School and your aim to support the teachers, staff, bus drivers and students. Please demonstrate this

support by fully funding the budget.

Jan L Adamchak



Legislature Asked To Stop Publishments


One final thought to my previous letter regarding the inhumane punishments being enforced upon our youths by members and judges of Worcester County’s Department of Juvenile Services and Drug Court.

I grew up in Bowie, Maryland where during our adolescence, hundreds of us committed minor crimes such as smoking pot, throwing snowballs and water balloons at vehicles, fighting, drinking underage, toilet-papering trees in people’s yards, throwing eggs at houses, among other minor crimes.

The punishments we received were tongue-lashings, groundings, detentions, school suspensions, and work community hours in extreme cases. Nearly all of us learned our lessons from these punishments.

If we had been living within Worcester County, members of its DJS would have severely punished most of us and had us entangled in their brutal Drug Court web of destruction that has imprisoned our youths for testing positive for drugs, and has also detained our youths in vile detention centers among violent and dangerous youths, and abusive and dangerous guards, in the Westernmost region of Maryland for numerous months while depriving us from our essential educations.

Many of us from Bowie who are now in our 50s and 60s would be mentally scarred for life from these inhumane punishments, just as our Worcester County’s young adults are today. Many others would not be with us today because they would be lying in their premature graves since they were teens or young adults, just as many of our Worcester County’s former teens and young adults now permanently lie.

I am aware of a teen who was punished and sent off to one of the vile detention centers by our county’s DJS and Drug Court, and upon returning home he OD’d on heroin shortly afterwards. He is one of the teens I mentioned who now permanently lies in his premature grave.

Rather than employees and judges of our county’s DJS and Drug Court inhumanely and mercilessly punishing our teens for minor crimes, how about they consider being merciful and showing compassion towards them? Why such brutal punishments? Do they honestly believe that they are helping these kids and these Barbaric punishments will help our youths and transform them into better people? How can they not realize that these Barbaric punishments are actually deforming them while destroying their lives and deeply scarring their brains for life…or do they realize it?

As mentioned in my previous letter, these Barbaric punishments are what you would expect to be happening in the 1500s during the Medieval Era – not 21st Century America – and these inhumane and uncivil punishments must cease ASAP. I urge all Worcester County residents who are concerned about these inhumane and uncivil punishments, and wish to abolish them, to contact members of the Judicial Committee during Maryland’s Legislative Session that commenced this week urging them to pass much-needed reformative laws that will discipline Worcester County’s youths in a humane and civil manner.

Andy Berges



Open Letter To Delaware Legislators


Minimum wage just climbed up another rung to the goal of $15 per hour for workers. Legislators may think: finally, a living wage for those in lower paying jobs. This may sound like a good thing, especially to anyone making under that amount, but unfortunately, there is a downside to this as well. When this legislation was passed and signed by the Governor, the minimum wage was $13.25. This was not a living wage, and nor is the final raise to $15/hour, as promoted. I’ll speculate that most, if not all, of the legislators that voted “yes” to this bill, never had to make a payroll. Legislators may think: so, what’s the big deal, you’ve owned a business for decades, you must have the money. Oh, what non-business owners don’t know about is all the tentacles of government that tell you how you must spend your money.

As a business owner for over 40 years, I can explain how these mandatory pay increases have and will affect my business, my workers, and my customers. Until now, I have never paid the “minimum wage” (with exception of tipped persons). I have always paid a bit more with the expectation of a bit more than minimal effort. That has worked in the past, but I’m not sure how it will work going forward. I have three high school age employees who were making $12/hour. They all got a raise January 1st and they are happy about that. But my most experienced employees, who have been with me for 12-15 years, won’t be getting an increase in their hourly rate this year because the least experienced employees with the least corporate knowledge received the increase due to this government mandate. What will the high schoolers do with their increase? Who knows, but it won’t be needed for a “living wage”. On the other hand, I’m 100% sure that my most knowledgeable, longtime workers are facing huge increased expenses in electric, food, insurance, auto repair, auto purchases, fuel and more. That extra $1.50/hour that they won’t be getting equals an extra $3,100 in their pockets, and that could help, a lot! But which employees receive what amount was decided by the government, not me, the business owner, and nor will it be decided by other business owners in Delaware. And who is the largest employer in Delaware that we the taxpayers have to cover their payroll? Yep, the State of Delaware is the largest employer in the state.

Of course, all those increases and more will affect my business. What’s an owner to do? Deal with it is our state government’s answer. Well, I will, but the cost will untimely be passed to the customer and to the workers, with less hours available and fewer raises or bonuses. To my legislators and governor, before you pat yourself on the back for raising the minimum wage, please let the free market decide how to spend our hard-earned money. You might feel good, but most of us will have to pay the price. The folks that earned the pay increase deserve the money, not necessarily the employees that the government deems more worthy. I am happy to employ workers with little experience, but I may not be able to afford to employ high school employees in the future, if I cannot pay a fair market wage to them. That is another unintended consequence of government interference and mandates.

“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” – Ronald Reagan

Paul Buchness

Georgetown, Del.