Lacking Leadership
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017
| 425 views

August 28, 2015 8:38 am ET

County jackboots efforts to resolve Woodlawn footbridge issue, impacting child safety

Source: Lacking Leadership

Yes, folks, in the subheadline I used the word “jackboot.” Is it a pretty garish word? Absolutely, but sometimes you have to use strong words to get attention where it is needed.

And this is one of those times, because the government wants to play games without taking care of constituent business, which—in this case—puts the safety of our school children at risk.

How so, you ask? Let me put it terms that even the county bureaucrats can understand.

The Woodlawn Footbridge is on county school property. The Baltimore County Department of Public Works tore down the bridge (without notifying anyone, including the Councilman) because they felt the wooden bridge was unstable.

There is only one mistake made to that point—lack of communication.

However, we are now to the point of a “he said, she said” cluster of a mess.

Rather than use my own words to describe the problem, I will let the emails do the talking. I love emails because they put everything on the screen in black and white—no issue with interpretation. After reading these emails, the message being sent to the taxpayers should be clear.

Mrs. Shirley Supik, a prominent community leader, writes the following:

One thing that is interesting to note here is that the footbridge was on Woodlawn High School Property and that is the reason DPW said the footbridge belonged to the School Board. This story is getting more interesting by the moment. All I want is to get the bridge back in place so the kids can stop walking in the street and be safe. Why can’t people just do the right thing?

Another reader wrote this:

Thank you so much for this info. We live directly across from the bridge and know how many people used it. It was strange that the county repainted the pedestrian crosswalk after school ended and then to our dismay the school did not even know the bridge was being taken down. We need sidewalks along the part of Dogwood Rd., because cars go to fast and I’m afraid some child will get hurt, If not then walking thru the creek to get to school walkway. Thank you for your work on this and hope a new bridge will come soon.

And now, some emails from the county, attempting to explain the situation:

Buzz,

I checked with our facilities team. The bridge is not the property of the school system. I do not know whose property it is or who is responsible for it.

Mychael Dickerson

Chief Communications Officer

Baltimore County Public Schools

I give credit to Mr. Dickerson. At least he took the time to research the issue and get back to me.

Now here is the email that sparked Mr. Dickerson’s involvement.

I am not aware of any reconsideration by the Department of Public Works regarding this topic as the location/need falls under the Baltimore County Public School’s responsibility. I suggest you contact the County Schools (Mr. John Ander) for further information.

Kevin J. Sabolcik, P.E., Chief

Structural Design Section

Bureau of Engineering & Construction

Baltimore County Department of Public Works

What we have here, folks, is the DPW not having a clue and wanting to play childish games, as demonstrated by this email:

Mr. Beeler,

Please submit a formal Freedom of Information Request for any questions you may have.

Kevin J. Sabolcik, P.E., Chief

Structural Design Section

Bureau of Engineering & Construction

Baltimore County Department of Public Works

111 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Room 219

Towson, Maryland 21204

So, in order to find out who is responsible for a 50-foot pedestrian foot bridge that was taken down by DPW—a bridge that is used by school children and community members alike—I have to file a PIA.

Transparency is not alive and well in our county government system. It is as dead as a doornail.

Unfortunately, I jumped into the craziness with my own email response:

Mr. Sabolcik, I will do that, but that in itself is a story.

For the record what is the reason for the request of the PIA?

So much for the transparency of county government not to mention one agency has no clue as to the information they are decimating.

I will play the game and that will be part of the record.

The request for a PIA, is this your decision or does it come from a higher authority?

I’m sure the community’s will love to read about this considering the bridge was taken down without notice and this has been an ongoing debacle while the safety of our school children get caught up in political games.

Another email from me to Mr. Sabolcik read as follows:

Mr. Sabolcik, while I’m working on the PIA I thought you might ask Mr. Adams what he was doing in the council chamber during the vote on the Bevins/Quirk sponsored legislation on the White Marsh Mall Outlet?

I found it rather strange that he was there. I’m quite sure that the taxpayers will foot some of those costs associated with that issue provided it does not reach the ballot box. He left right after the vote so I did not get a chance to get a comment from him.

I would think the community’s leaders would also like to know this and why it’s taking an -act of Congress- to get some simple answers to long festering issues.

As you can imagine, the reply I received was of the “zippo, nada, nothing, and take a hike” variety.

In plain speaking, there was no reply.

In summary, I will say that Baltimore County—including Kevin Kamenetz, the council, and other members of the administration, such as most notably (The Office of Fred) Homan—certainly know where to invest their time and efforts. That is why developers who fatten their campaign chests and fleece the taxpayer with multimillion dollar deals get all of the attention. Yet, “the powers that be” are totally absent when it comes to taking care of the community.

I seem to remember most of them taking an oath of office to do the opposite, but what do I know? Maybe the oath should be rewritten.

As instructed, I will file the PIA request and, I promise you, I will see them in court if they attempt to fleece me again like they did the last time.

Ultimately the entire community suffers and is put at risk by this totally incompetent leadership—those who collect rather large pay checks and still can’t figure out how to solve what should be a minor problem.

Don’t worry, folks. The elections aren’t too far off, and a good house cleaning may be in order. All you need is a broom.

The broom won’t help the community build a bridge, but it will clean up some other messes that litter the road to a valuable asset.

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