Prince George's County's new county excutive, Parris N. Glendening, outlined his "personal and governmental goals" for the county at his inauguration last week in Upper Marlboro, and said they would measure his success in the job over the next four years. Here are excerpts from his speech:
On the occasion of his inauguration in 1961, John F. Kennedy asked us not to question what our country can do for us, but rather to ask what we can do for our country. I ask you here today not to focus on the county's faults or an occasional adverse headline in the metropolitan press, but to stress our many strengths....
Let me share a few of our plans with you:
* The county must be placed on a sound financial basis. With major declines in federal aid, the rigid freezing of the property tax yield, and the leveling, and in some instances, declining of other revenue sources, our financial picture has become most difficult. Continued inflation, further federal aid reductions and recession-induced loss of other revenues, will make the situation more severe.
Projected revenue shortfalls for next year range from $28 million to $39 million. The anticipated cumulative four-year deficit is approximately $150 million... [but] the situation is not unique to Prince George's County.
Responsible leadership calls for a rational public debate about the fiscal alternatives facing us. Do we seek increased revenues, substantially reduced services, or some combination thereof?
...Additional revenue alternatives currently are being analyzed by us by several citizen and public groups. I intend to seek a major non-property tax revenue source from the state of Maryland. While I am flexible regarding the form this may take, the funding source must have two major features: Revenues must be of a sufficient magnitude to eliminate the bulk of next year's shortfall, and there must be some built-in growth factor to help us with future deficits....
If adequate funding is not secured, then we must begin the task of large and sustained service reductions. If this becomes necessary, we will be fair in the distribution of any cutbacks.We will be professional and equitable in the administration of personnel decisions. We will be open to all suggestions and alternatives to avoid reductions in force.
Whether we secure adequate revenues or make service reductions, one thing must be clear. Every economy and efficiency will be exercised to secure the maximum return on the taxpayers' dollar....
* Education is our top priority. The future of this county, state and nation rests on how well we prepare our youth for the world ahead. Efforts to fight crime, unemployment or juvenile delinquency will fail if we abondon our public education system. Successful economic development demands a quality educational system.
I do not intend to bend to the political winds that suggest we abandon our historic support of public education. My support for this most basic function of government shall not fail. Our primary emphasis will be on the teacher in the classroom and on maintaining and enhancing basic skills.
* Our communities must be made safe for all citizens. We will be putting together a comprehensive law enforcement package. It will include additional protections of senior citizens by seeking mandatory minimum sentences for acts of crime resulting in bodily harm to senior citizens. This package will support changes in state law to ensure that those convicted of heinous crimes never again pose a threat to society.
Our law enforcement program will support protections for the officer on the street, including legislation to outlaw Teflon-covered bullets -- "cop killer" bullets -- and to have mandatory sentences for crimes committed while wearing bullet-proof vests. With regard to the officers on the street, I demand fair, impartial, and professional law enforcement. In return, I pledge my support to you in the performance of your duty.
* We will set a new standard for professionalism in government. Personnel will be recruited and hired based on merit and professionalism....
* County employes deserve and will receive respect and dignity for the performance of their work. It is all too easy and regrettably common today to make public employes the scapegoat for all the ills of society....
* This county will be a place of equality. Special outreaches designed to share government with all citizens regardless of sex or race or religion already have begun and will continue unabated for the next four years. Our pre-inaugural personnel actions symbolize our long-term commitment to these goals. My special and personal commitment is to recruit qualified women to the highest administrative, appointive and elected positions in local government. The all-too-familiar "male only" sign no longer hangs in this county.
Lastly, with regard to the issue of equality, I emphasize in the strongest terms that acts of racial and religious bigotry, which seem to be on the rise across the nation, will not be tolerated in Prince George's County. We will seek legislation to increase substantially the penalities for acts of religious and racial vandalism. These laws will be enforced aggressively....
My administration will give early attention to the following areas:
* The Department of Aging needs major administrative improvements.... Minimum corrective actions will include the recruitment and appointment of professionals who will be allowed to perform without political interference; aggressive participation in federal and state aging programs; and full constructive utilization of the Advisory Committee on the Aging.
* The situation in the jail is unacceptable.... Minimum corrective actions will include the rapid construction of the new jail; a clear statement of policy that prisoner abuse will not be tolerated and that zero incidents are our goal; and personnel and administrative procedural changes necessary to meet this goal.
*... The county's housing and economic development needs are not being met by the current Department of Program Planning and Economic Development. Minimum corrective actions include the executive reorganization of the department to focus effectively on the important but very distinct functions of housing and economic development.
* The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is the only major local agency that has not brought its costs under control in these times of fiscal austerity. Requested rate increases appear oblivious to the fiscal realities of the day.
Minimum corrective action includes a through review of the entire WSSC management and decision-making process with the aim of increasing the two counties' policies control, improving management, saving money and consequently controlling rate increases.
* The merit system has been seriously eroded in recent years. The reduction-in-force process and union conflicts have further eroded the merit-based personnel system. Minimum corrective action includes a full commitment in word and deed to the principles of merit and professionalism and fair collective bargaining.