Sunday, August 12, 2007

Health & Aquatics Director: Update

Upon returning from a fantastic weekend in Michigan, AP was greeted with an answer to a cheeky question he posed with regards to the city hiring a Director of Health and Aquatics.

Normally, of course, city department heads have to request funds ahead of time. So, if they want to hire someone, they say "we want to hire XXXXXX position for $XX,XXX per year". Then, everyone can see what the money is going to be used for, and if we want that.

In this case, and this is not the only one, the department head hired someone using "contract services" money. Most departments receive money for contract services, and very little detail is provided as to where the money goes. Assumedly, the city does not have to offer benefits to contract employees, but the downside is: the public has no idea what we are spending money on.

AP looked up the budget for the rec and parks department, and noticed no money was put aside for a Health and Aquatics Director. But, never fear! The city will always find a way to spend your money! As quoted in The Capital:

Hired on a contractual basis for the remainder of this fiscal year, she will be paid about $36,000 for filling the 10 month position. If her contract is renewed next year, she will make about $45,000 for the full term.

Ok, great. So a miraculous $36,000 that was sitting around is now being used to fund this position. So what will she do?........

Ms. Bistrack was recently employed by the county to develop programs to prevent disease through exercise and nutrition. She will do similar work in her new position with the city, and in addition to her current swim coach duties at Truxtun Park, she will work as pool manager, recruiting and training life guards.

People, the city has ONE pool. Do we need to pay somebody $45,000 per year to measure the chlorine and hire, like, 4 people to work from, like, May-September?

Ms. Bistrack, if you please, state your case for being hired....

The whole reason this is coming to be is the growing obesity epidemic. Recreation and Parks in general offer low-cost programs for physical activity and it's one of the increasing ways to turn the tides.

Pardon my Canadian, but this is bullshit. (I was a short swim or tunnel ride away from Canada during my trip, so they can replace 'French' in this reference.) Why should the taxpayers be paying to fix the obesity epidemic? Here are the problems with this proposition:

1. This is a private matter if I have ever seen one. Unless you favor national healthcare, you have no business saying we should be paying for people who neglect themselves. Why would any of us try and stay healthy if we know that somebody else will pay when we get sick?

(I am resisting the urge to go on a health care tangent.)

2. Why does the city need its own Recreation and Parks Department? The county has one....why don't we actually work with the county (gasp!) to save some freekin' money? Let's use their obesity programs! Let's use their rangers! Let's use their $120,000 director!

This is totally obvious to me. Why is there so little cooperation between the city and the county? They surround us. On all sides. I'll give you an example: the county is building a fire station on the Annapolis neck. It will be on the same road (Forest Drive), about 4 miles away, from a city fire station. The county fire chief will have to pass by the city fire station to get to his county location. WHAT THE HECK?!!!! Can't we save some money by combining efforts in:

-rec and parks?
-public works?
-global warming? (That was a bonus item, just so the list could have 5 things.)


There is so much waste between the city and the county. I bet that there is an amazing amount of overlap of job responsibilities that the taxpayers are funding. Why? Well, as Capital Punishment says, the mayor is more concerned with sister cities in Europe than the sister county that is right next door.