Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Hardhat Tour Defining Moment in County Exec. Race"


Hardhat Tour Defining Moment in County Executive Race

"County Councilman Ken Ulman joined County Executive Jim Robey and other officials today for a hardhat tour of Howard County's new Public Safety Training Center which is currently under construction. The training center tour marked a defining moment in the County Executive race. Today's hardhat tour of the partially built facility was the kick-off for Community Readiness Week, and the training center itself serves as an example of Ulman's record of support for public safety. On the tour, Ulman was able to see first hand exactly what he voted for in the spring of 2003 when critical funding for the project was approved. Ulman supported funding for the training center over the repeated objections of his Republican opponent, Chris Merdon, who voted against the funding.

"In a post 9/11 world, we must do everything within our power to make sure our first responders have the resources they need to keep us safe," Ulman said. "Our police and firefighters constantly risk their own lives to protect ours. They deserve the best tools and training we can provide to help them do their jobs safely and effectively."

Ulman said the training center is just one example of the fundamental differences in how he and his Republican opponent approach the issue of emergency preparedness and how these differences have been reflected in their records. While Ulman has been a steadfast advocate for public safety and emergency preparedness efforts, his Republican opponent has repeatedly proposed drastic cuts in this area opposing funding for the training center, suggesting that the County's communications system of radios used by emergency personnel should be scaled back, and proposing to eliminate Howard County's Police Aviation Unit.

"Public safety is not an area where we can afford to cut corners," said Ulman. "Our current radio system provides approximately 95% coverage across the county," he explained. "We're doing well - that's a high level of coverage relative to other jurisdictions, but I think we should be looking at how we improve coverage over the remaining 5% of the county rather than talking about how the system could be scaled back." Ulman noted that the 9/11 Commission Report cited communications failures as a contributing factor in many of the fatalities at the World Trade Center. "Whether responding to a major disaster or carrying out their daily duties, communication tools are essential to our police and firefighters."

Ulman highlighted the Police Aviation Unit as another critical public safety tool which he supported strongly despite his opponent's proposal to eliminate the unit completely. Over the past five years, using the onboard video and thermal camera, the police helicopter has been used for numerous searches and surveillance missions resulting in 435 arrests. The helicopter also provides aerial observations of critical infrastructure for homeland security purposes.

"We're talking about tools, not toys," Ulman said, referring to recent comments made by Merdon which compared firefighters testifying in support of the training center to children asking for a playground. "I am proud to have a consistent record of supporting our first responders and ensuring that they have the tools needed to keep our county safe."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad day for Ulman. First the Sun article about his resume and then the Post endorsement below.

Howard County Executive
Chris Merdon has the credentials to lead the county.
Sunday, October 22, 2006; Page B06

THE RACE FOR Howard County executive is about preserving a suburban way of life with top-notch schools and comfortable neighborhoods in the face of continued growth but declining resources. It is a spirited contest featuring three able candidates with proven records of public service. County Council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon (R) is our choice over council member Ken Ulman (D) and independent candidate C. Stephen Wallis.

Mr. Merdon is best equipped to tackle the challenges of change, by virtue of experience, temperament and outlook. In his two terms on the council, he has demonstrated an ability to work across party lines on issues, and it is a testament to those skills that he was elected chairman when Republicans are in the minority.

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Managing growth and modernizing government are Mr. Merdon's top priorities, and he brings a nuanced philosophy to both. He recognizes that past battles over growth, including a rezoning that he opposed, has made residents distrustful of government, and he has some good ideas on how to restore public confidence. He is equally reasonable when it comes to taxes, having supported an excise tax to support the schools but opposing an increase in the county income tax.

Education is always a key issue in Howard, and while Mr. Wallis, a highly regarded school principal, has the edge in experience, Mr. Merdon has advanced initiatives for technology and middle school sports programs. His campaign is noteworthy for the level of detail he is providing to voters about what he would do if elected Nov. 7.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually responding to the topic of this thread, keep in mind that a number of adjacent counties' training facilities (some within a few miles of the county border) were used quite well by HoCo personnel.

Wouldn't it seem prudent to pool resources with adjacent counties to have the best training facilities available to all, instead of each county trying to reinvent the wheel and outdo the others? Or perhaps each county's facilities could be specialized and shared among the counties to allow even better preparedness for all?

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adjacent counties' training facilities (some within a few miles of the county border) are not used quite well by HoCo personnel.

In fact there is often no police training component and our fire fighters have been crossed off lists for higher paying customers at those facilities several times.

Also, what about the cost of gas and wear & tear on equipment during transport. Obviously, whoever said that comment is not a first responder and has not researched the issue.

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