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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Franchot: “Comptroller is My Dream Job”

George Wenschhof

It was an enjoyable one hour casual meeting with Maryland Comproller Peter Franchot (D) and his communications director Andrew Friedson.  Franchot was on his way to the Washington County Democratic picnic and took time to share some thoughts over a beer at Brewers Alley in historic downtown Frederick.

I asked what brought them to The City of Frederick and Friedson answered "Comptroller Franchot makes it a point to get out of Annapolis and travel all across the State of Maryland -- including frequent trips to Western Maryland -- to meet with the families and small businesses who are on the front lines of the Maryland economy and whose talent, ingenuity and sheer determination make the region, along with the entire state, such a great place to live, work and raise a family."

Recognizing, the Board of Public Works had received my column  published in The Frederick News Post, where I spoke in opposition to the Frederick county government proposed sale of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities, I shared with him the thanks many in Frederick County have in their decision to table a vote on the sale.

We spoke briefly about the state Board of Public Works meeting the day before where Governor Martin O’Malley and Treaurer Nancy Kopp joined Franchot to table a vote on the sale of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Care facilities.

Franchot shared with me he was impressed with the number of people from Frederick County who had attended the meeting to speak in opposition to the sale.  He added Frederick attorney Leslie Powell was also present to state she has active litigation against the sale. Franchot told me “for the board of public works to vote on contracts that are the subject of active litigation is something that has always concerned him.”

When I asked what he thought of Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young's assertion that the county would go through with the sale regardless of BPW's decision, Franchot said "that would be unwise for him to do so."

When I followed up with a question asking him what did he mean by that, Andrew Friedson said "The Comptroller believes that proceeding with the sale while it remains the subject of active litigation would be highly premature and carry considerable risk. It would be far more prudent to allow the legal process to run its course before taking further action -- as the Board of Public Works did on Wednesday -- and he would encourage the Frederick County Board of Commissioners to do the same."

During, our conversation, I asked Franchot about his decision to run for re-election as Comptroller, when it was widely known he also considered running for Governor in the 2014 state election.

Franchot said "While the encouragement I received to run for governor was humbling, being Comptroller is the greatest thrill and most profound honor of my professional life. Some people go a lifetime and never find their dream job, but I already have mine. So I look forward to continuing to serve as an independent, fiscal watchdog for Maryland taxpayers and to help lead a candid conversation about the fiscal and economic challenges that still lie ahead."

Franchot spoke enthusiastically in regard to his proposal to start schools after Labor Day, saying, in part "Starting schools after Labor Day isn't just necessary because of the$7.7 million in state and local tax revenue it would create for the priorities we care about, or the $74.3 million in direct economic activity it would generate in the midst of a sluggish recovery. It would mean jobs and supplemental income for so many people who desperately need it in Maryland, bringing nearly $4 million in additional wages to a state that's near the bottom in the country in private sector wage growth. And beyond the money or economic impact, it's ultimately about Maryland families -- particularly the folks who save up a little bit every paycheck just so they can spend a week to get away once a year with their family."
With time running short and understanding he was due at a picnic, I thanked the Comptroller for stopping by to say hello.  As he was leaving, Franchot made a point to share he is also pleased with the success of “Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week” which recently ended.  The exemption of the six percent sales tax helps at a time when many working families are purchasing back to school items for their children.

The Maryland state and Frederick County elections will be held in 2014.

Stay tuned.
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