Saturday, April 20, 2019

Fruit Salad

Today’s featured vocabulary:
  • cherry-picking
  • comparing apples and oranges
for extra-credit, see also: apophenia 

 Let’s begin.

County Executive Calvin Ball has released his first budget for Howard County. You can read more about the education focus of the budget here. The usual budget process has been followed and there has been input from the community and budget analysis from staff whose expertise is in examining and evaluating financial choices. That’s how it is done every year in Howard County.

The County has been open in sharing that revenue projections are down and community needs are up.  This means, of course, that decisions on what will be funded require more scrutiny. That’s not unlike one’s own family budget. You need to choose what is most crucial for the money you have. What is the best investment based on known efficacy and value?

Despite the fact that anyone following this process has all of this context at their disposal,  a baldly political smear campaign is at work which attempts to make the entire budget process about two things alone:
  • Discontinuation of police aviation program
  • Security detail for County Executive and family 
Let me tell you, it took a lot of work for someone to wade through the entire Howard Budget and emerge (cherry-picking) with only these two completely unrelated items. (Comparing apples and oranges) This was not accidental. This was done by someone who wants to do all your thinking for you and slip a little poison in there, as well.

The discontinuation of aviation programs is not new. See this article about Harford County.

Citing safety, cost, focus, Harford sheriff discontinues aviation unit, David Anderson for The Aegis

And former County Executive Allan Kittleman fought for the discontinuation of the aviation program right here in Howard County when he was on the County Council. See the details here.

GOP offers budget choice, Jamie Smith Hopkins for The Baltimore Sun

Funny how it’s a responsible fiscal choice if a Republican does it, but it’s reckless and selfish if a Democrat does it. 

It’s almost as though it’s not about aviation at all.

Critics have tried to amplify their accusations by suggesting that the County Executive chose a security detail for himself and his family over the Aviation program. Here is where you extra-credit types can go look up apophenia.

There’s no link between these two individual budget choices. If analyzing the budget is purely about weighing what comes in versus what is going out, why aren’t these people linking the aviation issue with the introduction of the Howard County STRIVES Program? It’s a comparable financial expenditure:

$400,000 for HoCo S.T.R.I.V.E.S. to support children’s mental and behavioral health programs; academic, social, and emotional learning supports; and community capacity building. (Kimi Robinette for WBAL News Radio) Link here.

Why aren’t Calvin Ball’s critics roasting him for choosing children’s mental health over 
aviation? I’ll tell you why: because it doesn’t fit their narrative. It would make them look like mean-spirited whiners who’d just as soon kick your puppy if it got in the way of their political machinations.

No, it was a very deliberate choice to go into an enormous, multifaceted document and pick something very personal to the County Executive with which to cast doubt on his credibility and fitness to serve. 

There’s no obvious connection here. It’s a disingenuous concoction meant to hurt. It also shows slipshod analysis and just plain bad math. Frankly, I hope people like this never get their hands on a Howard County Budget. Ever.

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