Silence is golden

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt," so goes a bit of sound advice attributed to any number of great wits ranging from Confucius to Mark Twain. It remains as unheeded today as it did in the times of those great sages of either China or America.

Case in point: Harford County Councilman Joe Woods. Speaking before a gathering at a meeting of the Fallston Community Council, Fallston being the community he represents, he offered out loud a few thoughts that could easily be taken for evidence of being a bit hard of thinking. To wit, in speaking about the personal council aides he and his council colleagues are hiring, positions that are advertised as requiring a government or legal background, he offered this: "It must be a tough market for lawyers because people are willing to take a $30,000 a year job."

Possibly, it's lost on Mr. Woods, but $30,000 is hardly a pauper's wage in a state where the median annual household income is in the $75,000 range and in many households, two people work. Moreover, as $30,000 a year jobs go, one with a county government benefits package is a good deal better than most.

Councilman Woods goes on to point out that the legislative aides council members are hiring "every time there's a new council member, that person's job could go away." Though theoretically true, a more likely scenario is a shift to another department to make way for the next crop of lackeys for the next group of council members.

On the same subject, Mr. Woods pointed out the reason he and his council colleagues decided to do away with the council staff that had been in place in favor of a larger, more transient staff that is more personally beholden to individual council members rather than the legislative branch as a whole: "... we're not growing as a council. The council was growing but the staff isn't growing properly."

Under the new structure, each council member — and it's worth pointing out that each one is paid a nominally part time salary with benefits that's substantially more than the full time salary paid to their new aides — will be able to help the council grow by a staff member each. Presumably, this constitutes growing properly.

Possibly it isn't fair to skewer Mr. Woods on this matter. After all, the other council members are just as responsible for growing the council staff. Then again, they haven't yet spoken out so ineloquently on the subject.

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