Getting regular maintenance for your car does not have an immediate impact on the performance of the vehicle, so it's easy to put off. Deciding not to change the oil or rotate the tires seems to have no effect other than to save money.
What County Executive David Craig has been doing to Harford County since he took over has been analogous to driving a car without getting the oil changed. He has submitted a budget that for the 7th year in a row fails to provide his employees with even a cost of living increase. He touts this as a significant achievement, as if the mere fact that he saved money is a good thing. Saving money by neglecting the periodic maintenance of your vehicle will produce a savings — in the short run.
Mr. Craig has said that clearly things are not too bad with the teachers since they all haven't left yet. That is like saying that the car is not in bad shape because it has not started to smoke yet. Waiting until your car starts to sputter before you change the oil is not responsible management.
Being a responsible public servant means that you have to take care of the regular maintenance even if it costs money. It means investing so that you avoid problems. Mr. Craig has left a legacy of mismanagement that is going to cost the people of Harford County a great deal of trouble, but he does not care because he is out of here this year. Teachers are starting to flee a county that despite being the 7th wealthiest only invests the 19th most in education in the state. Every teacher I know who is not within sight of retirement has fired up their resume and are looking anywhere and everywhere for positions where the management wants to reward hardworking people.
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