Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski outline how the county can pay for his proposed budget cuts. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
It's time for The Sun to stop referring to the Baltimore County $81 million deficit as "unexpected" ("In Baltimore County, a budgetary crossroads," April 16). That's as bad as calling the Baltimore riots of 2015 "unrest." County Executive Johnny Olszewski was endorsed by multiple Democratic Baltimore County Council members. Surely, these people were aware of the county's financial situation. If they weren't, why are they still in office?
When Mr. Olszewski was running for county executive, making promises that he would increase teacher salaries by 20 percent in his first term, "work toward a 1:18 teacher-student ratio," provide free community college and universal pre-K, and put $2 billion into school facilities over the next 10 years, didn't any of these council members pull him aside and say, "Hey, you may want to dial back your promises a bit. The county budget is in a big hole?”
This deficit seems to have been a somewhat well-kept secret, dating back to Kevin Kamenetz's administration, a secret that was maintained as long as Kamenetz had his eye on the governorship. That brings us to Don Mohler, Kamenetz's former chief of staff, who was chosen by the council to finish Kamenetz's term after his sudden death. Mr. Mohler had no intention of seeking election for another term and he actively endorsed Mr. Olszewski. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead." So the secret should have been out.
However, it appears that Baltimore County's budget was the elephant in the room. It defies imagination to think that Mr. Mohler and the previously mentioned council members would leave their new county executive in the dark regarding the state of the county, or that he never said to them, "I couldn't help but notice that elephant sitting over there." This was not an "unexpected deficit."