Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Damsker Hoeffel Position Papers

Earlier this month I took a look at the white papers posted by Democratic candidate for Delaware County Commissioner, David Landau. It would be sensible then to also look at proposed policies from other county-level candidates.

Incumbent Democratic Montgomery County Commissioner Ruth Damsker and running mate Joe Hoeffel have posted some of their plans on the campaign site. Let’s take a quick look.

Delivery of Human Services

Damsker’s background in social work shows in the 14 items listed here. For example, few people would stop to think about the transition of services for mentally and physically challenged people who reach 21. Personally I would like to see a similar point for foster children who age out of the state system and are suddenly on their own. Among the other points they have listed are trying to reduce or end waiting lists for mental health services, expand prevention problems for substance abuse, and encourage cooperation between existing public and private services.


Here there are several concrete suggestions, such as using compact fluorescent lamps in county buildings. They also have some larger changes in mind.

Damsker and Hoeffel said they would take two immediate steps upon election aimed at getting a running start on the environmental agenda. They would be tapping someone from the county health department or planning commission staff to serve as the county's Environmental Policy Coordinator (EPC), and establishing the Commissioners' Environmental Council (CEC), which would be comprised of key department heads, staff, community leaders and scientific and environmental experts.

The EPC would be responsible for leading the effort to lower Montgomery County's impact on the global warming and the environment. The person chosen would have three major responsibilities: 1) coordinating the "greening" of county government; 2) advise the commissioners on environmental issues and initiatives; and 3) advocate for local community groups fighting for environmental improvements and against neighborhood polluters.

The CEC would be a permanent advisory body to the commissioners and would investigate the viability of technologies and ideas that could possibly be used to help Montgomery County reach its environmental goals.

One thing that could have added to their plans is a way of tapping into the environmental advisory committees, volunteer groups that advise most township governments on environmental topics.

Fiscal Responsibility

There are a few more concrete suggestions here, such as having a chief financial officer and an inspector general, and the use of zero-based budgeting.

Best Practices

Seven items are listed under this heading. Here are my two favorites:

5. ONE IS NOT ENOUGH -- The county will make every effort to secure more than one proposal for every RFP, including re-soliciting and re-advertising of the RFP, and appropriate inquiry to RFP recipients who failed to respond to identify problems or possible bias.

7. A CONTRACT FOR EVERY ACCEPTED PROPOSAL -- The County Solicitor shall negotiate a written contract for every RFP proposal accepted and selected by the Commissioners.

Isn’t that just common sense?

I’ll check back from time to time to see if any other proposed policies are added to the site.

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