Action Annapolis Questionnaire
Ward 2 | Alderman Fred Paone (R) and Challenger Kurt Riegel (D)
Vision and Priorities
1. Please share your campaign vision and priorities. What strengths will you bring to the job, and what past experience has prepared you for the role of Alderman?
Fred Paone (R): My campaign vision and priorities are more than adequately expressed in other parts of my answers to this questionnaire. My strengths are my communication skills with my constituents and colleagues combined with a solid intellect and work ethic. My family, my faith, my education and my life experiences, mostly acquired here in the City of my birth have all prepared me to continue as Alderman. Perhaps what has prepared me the most is my experience with the City as an active member of the Council for the last nine years.
Kurt Riegel (D):
• Vitality: Annapolis succeeds best when our residents love living here, and outsiders want to visit. We must foster successful businesses, recreational amenities, attractive public spaces, a healthy environment, vitality in the arts, music and other cultural pursuits
• Responsibility: Nurture the financial health of Annapolis through operating efficiencies, broadened and equitable revenue sources, and sound management practices, with nondiscrimination and appropriate priority to public safety. Ensure communication between elected officials and constituents.
• Mobility: Business and community vitality depend on a diverse and resilient transportation system that serves all our citizens. We need disciplined attention to all components: streets, parking, public transit, safe pedestrian/bicycle sidewalks and paths.
• Communication with constituents, email/social media to provide advance notice of issues & legislative agendas, analysis, preliminary indication of how I will vote together with an open invitation for input that might influence that vote. I will convene periodic Town Halls.
• Environmental Performance in forest retention, water quality in our creeks, plus improved access to land/water recreation for all demographics.
• Healthy Business Environment, more good retail businesses in Ward 2, find and implement best regulatory practices from other jurisdictions.
• Augment Revenues other than Taxes, payments in lieu of taxes, fair fees, reactivate State Commission on the Capital City for multi-jurisdictional equity that reduces Annapolis dependence on taxes
• Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Street Infrastructure. Upgrade sidewalks, bike paths, improve street maintenance.
• Extend Poplar Trail in both directions for a safe continuous connection between the true center of Annapolis and Annapolis Towne Centre.
• Circulator, extend and improve a free circulator to connect both Ward 1 and Ward 2 business districts.
• Deploy More Community Policing to build trust between police and all citizens while also improving security for residents.
• Board Member, West Annapolis Civic Association
• Vice President, West Annapolis Civic Association
• President, Severn River Association
• Board Member, Severn River Association
• Chair, Annapolis Environmental Commission
• Member, Severn River Commission
• Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University
• Senior Federal Executive, ret. (Navy, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy)
• Education: BA Johns Hopkins, PhD University of Maryland, PMD Harvard Business School
• Frequent testimony before Annapolis City Council and its Committees, Anne Arundel County Council and its Advisory Boards
2. Do you support strengthening the role of the City Manager? Why or why not?
Paone: Yes, I do. An experienced and knowledgeable City Manager is in a much better position to run the City without a political bias or political motivation.
Riegel: Yes, with respect to professional aspects of technical and government administration. And yet, clear lines of authority to elected officials must remain so that policy accountability to the electorate is maintained. Both Council/Manager and Mayor/Council/Manager forms of municipal government are viable for a city like Annapolis. One can find localities that successfully apply both, so the form chosen is less important than selecting good officials and managers. I don’t feel an urgent need for striking change in form, but am open to discussion ways to improve the quality of government by a selectively strengthening the role of the city manager.
3. Annapolis has vibrant economic opportunities. We also have a history of challenges in sustaining businesses in the City. What are your ideas in attracting and keeping businesses in Annapolis?
Paone: I would emphasize the City’s charm and the spending power that it brings with it. The sailing community, the millions of tourists and visitors the City attracts, the USNA and an affluent, at least in part, citizenry are all huge pluses.
Riegel: Ongoing periodic review of code/regulations is needed to ensure that city constraints on business are truly necessary, effective in accomplishing their purpose, and minimally burdensome. For example, methods might include “tiger teams” comprising personnel from Annapolis and sister-cities to review each other’s operations to identify best practices for possible adoption.
In Ward 2, I will meet with business associations and individual businesses so always to be apprised of needs and impacts relating to business climate. One size fits all parking requirements should be reviewed and replaced, as we implement modern parking management techniques and as new services like Uber become significant.
4. How would you focus specifically on businesses owned by African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities?
Paone: I believe in equal economic opportunity for all citizens regardless of race or national origin. Once that is established, I believe in fair competition. That is what our free market economy is about.
Riegel: First, it is crucial to know how needs and impacts of this segment of the business community are unique, and then to address them. That’s why we have advisory commissions, and I will continue my participation with the Caucus of African American Leaders, and with minority business leaders especially in Ward 2. Moreover, I will encourage individual owners to participate in business associations, to ensure their voice is added to that of other businesses in dealings with the city.
5. The Market House has a history of instability. What are your plans for a long-term solution to stabilize the Market House for the next generation and make it a hub for city activities?
Paone: My long term plans for the Market House involve bringing in businesses (or a single business) that appeals to visitors and residents alike. The City has no business being in landlord/tenant relationships with commercial industry. We need to have someone with the knowledge and experience in running a similar commercial enterprise to lead the Market House venture. Neither the City Council, nor our other government leaders truly possess this expertise.
Riegel: To a degree, this question has been overtaken by events with the passage of new procurement rules for the next cycle of Market House operation. I will insist on, and monitor carefully, both financial performance and community satisfaction and join with others to act should it become necessary. Experts differ on exactly what approaches work best. The city’s stance should be to encourage innovation, monitor performance carefully, keep the successes and promptly terminate the failures. Because there are legal obstacles to divestment of this property, I will not discuss that option.
6. Residents of HACA (Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis) locations continue to experience a disproportionate amount of crime and inadequate living conditions. What four actions would you recommend to address HACA residents’ immediate safety, security, and quality of life needs?
Paone: Why four actions? This is not a good question! More foot patrols and better community policing are needed to help with security. Better leadership from the public housing community itself is needed even more. Better police-community relations are also needed. When the bad guys learn that public housing residents are no longer afraid and will report their illicit activities to the authorities, the quality of life will improve dramatically. I would also strongly encourage the occupations and educational programs (STAIR & Seeds 4 Success, etc) . Security and education are the keys to success.
Riegel: Continuous communication among residents, HACA, and the city is crucial in order to understand needs, and to identify problems promptly. A transition to greater reliance on community policing can be a useful adjunct to this approach, in combination with appropriate deployment and reliance on technology. Mutual trust and respect must be built with actions that enhance both the reality and a feeling of security, with attention to maintenance/repairs to make homes residents like and feel they have a stake in.
7. With federal funding eliminated for renovation and new construction of public housing, where will money come from for redevelopment of our existing public housing?
Paone: Public-Private partnerships. The jury is still out on how well they will work in our community, but for now … so far, so good.
Riegel: This is a difficult problem for which there is no single “silver bullet” solution. The city must do the best it can in combined efforts to apply for federal funding, to influence it using our congressional delegation, and to optimize the balance among federal, private, and city resources. Appointment and employment of skilled experts in this field are crucial to quality administration of Annapolis’ public housing.
8. Some of the housing has been redeveloped through public-private partnerships. Is this a good model, and why or why not?
Paone: see #7 above. Many have worked in other cities. Why shouldn’t they work here?
Riegel: Some such arrangements in our public housing stock are a fait accompli and we are obliged to make the best of the capital stock as it exists. As for the future, the city must carefully examine the resources and programs available in what could be a painfully shrunk federal program. We have no pat answers to tough questions. We have a difficult road ahead. Public housing is a core responsibility of government to its most vulnerable citizens and we must get this right. Contributions from well designed and well managed partnerships can play a useful role theoretically, but the devil is in the details and the city government must always play a key role.
9. What is your position on privatizing of any of the city’s assets, e.g., recreational facilities, Market House, services?
Paone: I do not know what you mean by “privatizing … the City’s assets”. Privatizing City services, I understand, but that is not what is asked here. Poorly phrased question.
Riegel: Several recent privatizations of city properties have occurred, handled clumsily and giving less benefit to the city than could have been achieved. Looking forward, I cannot conceive of an instance that would have my support. For example, the Pip Moyer Center, our parks, water access points, should be retained and operated by the city for the benefit of all its residents. These are community assets of crucial value, transcending financial value alone. Once lost are difficult to impossible to replace.
10. What will be your approach to reduce and prevent crime?
Paone: Crime is such a multifacited problem that I could not begin to explain what is needed in a few sentenses here. It involves socialogical, economic, educational, familial, religious, housing and medical issues. There are no easy answers.
We can make sure that we adequately fund our police department and protect our officers as best we can. We can educate the public and be sure all have opportunitiesfor success in life. We need to work with the churches and to combat the scourge of drugs. We need to make sure adequate drug treatment programs are available. Just throwing money at the problem does not solve anthing.
Riegel: Crime informs us of a need continuously to find opportunities for improvement. Smart response is more effective than simple and costly reaction, like reflexively increasing personnel and spending without a deeper plan. Perspective is key, because this era is one of overall decline in many crime statistics even as are punctuated by upticks now and then. More Community Policing is needed to build trust between police and all citizens while also improving security for residents and the city. We must always try first to achieve this by redeployment of existing assets, rather than by adding more without careful thought and practical plans.
11. The budget currently before the City Council anticipates hiring additional police and fire employees. The city would have to provide funding in subsequent budgets to support the additional employees. What is your proposal regarding the source of those funds?
Paone: They may or may not be needed after the present grant money runs out. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Riegel: Federal and state funds should be sought. Whether such additional positions are funded by Annapolis taxpayers or from other sources, hiring increases will represent a long-term addition to pension/health costs. Such increases should always occur only after disciplined and accurate assessment of long-term need rather than short-term statistical fluctuation unrelated to statistical crime fundamentals, with a clear understanding that temporary grant support cannot be depended upon for the long term.
Budget and Taxes
12. How will you propose financing general budget needs?
Paone: Through taxes, collecting fees and grants. The City does not have a revenue problem, it has a SPENDING problem. We need to determine the City’s budgeting priorities and work from there. The fat needs to be cut!
Riegel: The city’s menu of funding sources includes property taxes, fees for service, fines and penalties, grants, intergovernmental transfers, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT). All must be used wisely. My priorities include enhancement of the non-tax sources of revenues by more wisely employing tools such as the State Commission on the Capital City which exists on paper but hasn’t called a meeting for a decade.
13. What is your position on the current mayor’s proposed tax cut of $330,000?
Paone: It has already been voted down. End of story.
Riegel: A tiny proposed “tax cut” was purely cosmetic and political, masking the reality of an increase in taxes collected from taxpayers. What counts is the totality of revenues/expenditures. Especially worrisome is new debt that is growing the city’s debt/revenue ratio, now at an historic high of 1.75. We are increasing borrowing during a time of economic prosperity rather than exercising fiscal restraint. Future economic downturns may necessitate new borrowing, but present conditions do not. Worse, the city is using long-term debt to finance short-term operational costs. The rule taught to every Econ 101 student is that “the term of the debt should match the lifetime of the acquired asset,” a rule we are breaking.
14. Please rank the following for budget priorities, from highest to lowest priority: Arts, Community Parks and Recreation, Education, Infrastructure, Transparency, Transportation
Paone: My budgeting priorities are: (1) Public Safety. This will always be #1 for me. (2) Fiscal Responsibility. It is my duty as an Alderman to see that the taxpayers money is not wasted and that the City operates on sound financial footings. (3) Economic Development within the City – from property flows jobs and overall better quality of life. While the priorities lists in your question are important (the City has little to do with the Board of Education policy), maintaining and improving the City’s aging infrastructure might be my #4 priority – everything else only comes after my top four.
4. Community parks and recreation
7. Education (Complicated, don’t be misled by placement last. This is the most important item on this list but education budgeting is mainly determined by Anne Arundel County, not the city of Annapolis.)
Equal Protection Under the Law
15. In February 2017, the City Council passed Ordinance 0-1-17, Non-discrimination Foreign-Born Residents Equal Protection, acknowledging that all persons are due equal protection under the law. If you had been mayor/alderman at that time, how would you have voted on this ordinance, and why? If you are an incumbent, how did you vote and why?
Paone: I voted against it because it does NOTHING to help our foreign born residents. It was unnecessary and misleading. The City already had in place the exact same protections that the ordinance purports to provide. Indeed, the City’s regulations even have the exact same penalties for violations that this law has. This was, of course, not mentioned by the sponsors. The whole sorry episode was a shameful act of preying upon a certain element of our residents for political gain and I regret that my colleagues on the Council did not have the courage to stand up to the political pressure put upon us. A community has been mislead and not one person is safer from deportation than they were before the was passed.
Riegel: I supported this ordinance strongly and testified for it at the city council hearing. Everybody, not just immigrants, benefits from this ordinance. For example, it dampens fear among immigrants that they or their family will suffer if they report crimes, a fear that makes us all less safe. I regard the two votes against it as pandering to the Trump administration. Rather than surrender threats of unlikely retaliation, possible cancellation of a few federal grants, we must resolutely defend equal protection for all our residents. For good and valid reasons, immigration policy is a federal responsibility.
16. What are your environmental initiatives? What will you do to address long term environmental sustainability needs and what is your plan to pay for these initiatives?
Paone: Enforcing provisions, of the Forest Conservation Act, particularly the one-for-one tree replacement provision is huge in terms of the future. I support storm water initiatives, including the screening of streams leading into our creeks and rivers. National and State initiatives play a large role in this also. Our work will not mean much if our air in filthy and the Bay is polluted by industrial waste.
Riegel: The largest portion of my professional and civic energies have long been directed at improving environmental quality, with senior executive appointments in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy, and as head of a science facilities program at the National Science Foundation. I will bring exceptional experience to the city council respecting water quality (for example, No Net Loss of Forest, Stormwater Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), and No Discharge Zone initiatives.) Forest and natural vegetation is crucially important and I will bring both knowledge about and determination to protect these resources. My work on these issues is well known and has been influential in modifying the scale and character of two large Annapolis developments. Mine is a knowledgeable and friendly voice for efforts by Annapolis to achieve excellence in environmental quality over the long term. Past activities in leadership positions in, and current connections to, these environmental organizations will benefit the city: Severn River Association, Annapolis Environmental Commission, Severn River Commission.
17. In March 2017, the City Council adopted the Forest Conservation Reforestation ordinance, known as “No Net Loss,” which requires developers to replace each acre of trees they cut down. If you had been mayor/alderman at that time, how would you have voted on this ordinance, and why?
Paone: I voted for it and strongly support it. It requires that each tree be replaced, not each acre. It is a clear, fair and reasonable requirement that can help our environment immensely over a lengthy period of time.
Riegel: I worked hard for this as a member of the city’s environmental commission, and personally with testimony before the city council and with civic groups. Mine would have been an enthusiastic vote in favor. It is crucial that we preserve our greatest protector of water quality in Annapolis’ creeks and habitat for wildlife, natural vegetation and forest cover.
18. Do you believe that additional storm water treatment initiatives /efforts are required? If so, what would you recommend and how would they be funded?
Paone: I do believe this. The City needs to clean up the runoff before it enters our creeks and rivers.The City is addressing this issue, but private industry must do much more. Taxpayers, national, State and local will have to foot a large part of the bill, but business and industry has to join in as part of the solution.
Riegel: Yes. Mine was a voice calling out the misallocation of stormwater fund revenues to purposes having little to do with improving water quality. Efforts to achieve real improvement rather than mere maintenance must continue. Achieving TMDL targets is necessary, a mandatory challenge under present law. Funding must be sought from all available sources including federal grants, several Chesapeake Bay programs, voluntary participation by private parties, and city funds.
19. Would you consider joining with the 246 Mayors in the US in supporting the commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and work with them to support 21st Century a clean energy economy?
Paone: I believe strongly in the goals that were set by the Paris Climate Agreement. I do not believe that we as a country need to pay anything close to the $3 Billion to assist other countries to clean up their mess.
20. The Eastport development project involves conflicts in the interpretation of the zoning code. How would you resolve this and future conflicts so that the developer and the community can rely on consistency in the approval process?
Paone: First, the zoning code needs to be completely rewritten. I plan on introducing a Resolution to insure this happens. Second, the developers and the City need to sit down ahead of time and review all anticipated issues well prior to the permitting process. The fewer the surprises, the better for all involved.
Riegel: We need more discipline and clearer direction from the city council, for codes/regulations that are unambiguous. Communication of those requirements should be early and clear so that this sort of difficulty is avoided.
21. What is your position on requests being made by the Department of Recs and Parks for funding for the before and after-school program?
Paone: We already voted to subsidize this program so long as it sustains itself during most of the school year.
Riegel: I have not seen the specifics but am generally favorable to this kind of initiative if means can be found for sound funding. Since it seems to have a direct tie to education I would turn first to Anne Arundel County as a source of funds to supplement city resources.
22. How do you think art in public places should be regulated and financed?
Paone: It is supposed to be financed through a percentage of certain fees the City collects. Some regulation in the Historic District is necessary, but beyond that, it should be quite limited.
Riegel: I am an enthusiastic advocate for art in public places, to enliven our town and energize our citizen artists. My dismay over the controversy we’ve seen over recent art projects is balanced by an optimism that this issue is now on the public radar and we have a chance to craft a better approach. I will support approaches that reduce bureaucratic barriers to displaying art on public and private buildings, particularly when such displays are time- limited and some provision is created for public input that would be helpful to artists, displayers, and the public. There should be reasonable allocation of funds for art in public places, and private properties should not look to the city for financing.
23. Members of city boards and commissions are required to provide a signed Statement of Compliance with the Provisions of Ethics Ordinance, affirming that they understand the provisions of the city code regarding public ethics and financial disclosure. Several members of the advisory boards and city commissions resigned because they took issue with the wording of the statement. Do you support any changes to make the statement non-controversial, and if so, what changes?
Paone: The wording of the statement is not the least bit confusing! None of our 200+ boards and commissions members have resigned over this, to my knowledge going back as far as 1985 when I came on the Ethics Commission. We need more transparency, not less. The cockeyed arrogant interpretation of one individual who thought he knew more about the law than any of the attorneys consulted should not be allowed to negatively effect our long established ethics practices.
Riegel: I am not primarily concerned with whether the language in the Statement of Compliance is controversial. As a citizen and, if elected as a public official, my first concerns are whether it is legal, and whether it is a helpful government policy. In my view, amending paragraph
2.08.060 would not cure its fundamental deficiencies. That paragraph requires outright repeal. The state ethics code explicitly exempts local advisory boards and commissions from filing financial disclosure forms and neither requires nor authorizes anything but the official oath of office. No other locality has an ethics oath, and the one invented in Annapolis is unlawful and unwise. It should be repealed in its entirety.
First, it is unnecessary. This oath covers a single portion of the Annapolis code. Members are already sworn in under the official oath of office covering all provisions in law at all levels of government.
“That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.”
The “swear and affirm” language of the offending paragraph is unlawful, as settled in case law and by the latest revision of the current official oath of office. “Swear or affirm” is the lawful language.
More importantly, the Declaration of Rights bans any additional oath of office, including the Annapolis Ethics paragraph. There is one and only allowable oath of office under the Maryland Constitution. Because the present Mayor administers the ethics oath as an absolute and non-negotiable requirement for holding office as a member of an advisory board or commission, it is an oath of office.
No other jurisdiction in Maryland requires this kind of oath, for good reason. It applies only to bodies lacking any regulatory or financial authority and therefore serves no discernable purpose.
It is applied unequally, only to advisory commission volunteers. It does not apply to other members of other commissions, employees, or elected officials.
It unlawfully threatens prosecution for perjury for failure to “understand,” but fails to provide objective criteria for what would constitute an acceptable level of “understanding,” or any test to determine whether those criteria have been satisfied.
The paragraph addresses a non-problem. There is no evidence of substantive ethical violations by members of advisory commissions that would requires action of any kind, let alone this mindlessly damaging and unlawful provision.
It is poor public policy. Oaths are a lazy, poor, and harmful substitute for legitimate and effective measures designed to deal with real problems. Good policy includes first validating that a real problem exists, and then providing training, testing, etc. that will cure that problem. This paragraph has needlessly generated controversy and caused removals
and resignations of citizen volunteers who have served honorably, generously wishing only to contribute their expertise to the city.
24. Do you support the current Mayor-Council form of government or a Council - Manager form, and why?
Paone: I favor the Council-Mayor form . It is potentially more efficient and economical. I have always felt that the change, however, should come by way of the ballot box, not Council actions. I am reconsidering that position and support Council- Manager form of government.
Riegel: Both Council/Manager and Mayor/Council/Manager forms of municipal government are viable for a city like Annapolis. One can find localities that successfully apply both, so the form chosen is less important to me than selecting good officials and managers. I don’t feel an urgent need for change, even as I declare an interest in public discussion that might lead to such a change.
25. Should boards and commissions have final say on the level of detail needed for their minutes, as long as that level met all legal and code requirements?
Riegel: Yes. Past efforts by the Administration to suppress the preparation of complete and accurate Minutes by boards and commissions were not only unhelpful, they were antithetical to values of truth and transparency that are protected by responsible public officials. The best commissions ignored ham-handed administrations instructions to dumb down their Minutes to blandness, but some shamefully acquiesced. I will protect the freedom of boards and commissions fairly and completely to report their activities to the public.
26. Would it be useful if the Mayor were to attend at least one board or commission hearing per month?
27. Should annual reports for each board and commission be posted on the city website?
28. How would you address the lack of women and minorities on City Boards and Commissions and as department heads? If so, how would you address it?
Paone: [Paone did not respond to this question.]
Riegel: I would oblige the city to prepare a statistical summary of relevant information, present it to each board and commission, identifying imbalances where they exist. Boards and commissions should be invited to submit names of prospective nominees that would bring both technical excellence and help to redress those imbalances. Finally, the council should require a periodic progress report from the Mayor and make course corrections as necessary.