Editorial: FACT Strategy

FACT strategy

The Frederick News-Post Editorial

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 2:00 am

The Frederick County Commissioners provided a $25,000 allotment to the Frederick Area Committee for Transportation, which FACT is using to hire Greenwill Consulting Group. Greenwill’s task will be to lobby for the area’s many and varied transportation funding needs.

Lobbying is often characterized as an unsavory business, and in lots of instances, we’d readily agree — particularly as it’s sometimes practiced on Capitol Hill. Statehouses haven’t exactly been immune to the influence of power and money either.

But there’s a difference between a lobbyist trying to finagle a member of Congress to favor his client in a huge Defense Department contract or critical energy policy, and trying to make the case for a local jurisdiction’s transportation funding that will benefit the community at large.

According to FACT’s page on the Frederick County website, it’s a volunteer group that has been active for more than 20 years. Former Frederick Alderwoman Carol Krimm is currently president of FACT and appears to be a good choice for that position. She’s had experience as an elected official, and has worked and volunteered in government in a wide variety of ways. She’s also keenly interested in transportation issues.

Funding for transportation projects is hard to come by these days, but FACT is setting its sights on securing Frederick County’s fair share. This is a dynamic, growing area, as well as a key player on the statewide scene. Its transportation needs are important.

FACT will be concentrating on the Maryland Legislature for the next three months, and will then turn its attention to Congress, where Maryland is lucky to have two influential veterans in Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

Krimm says FACT is currently focused on three priorities: the proposed Buses on Shoulders program, which she helped promote at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; projects that would affect Frederick Municipal Airport; and Fort Detrick, which is already a large, important complex and will be more so in the future.

Greenwill government relations associate Jeanette Ortiz will be a key person promoting FACT’s agenda. Ortiz has ties with officials such as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, for whom she has worked. While we think Frederick’s needs speak convincingly for themselves, it never hurts to know and have a professional history with officials such as Brown, who may be Maryland’s next governor.

One of the most immediate and pressing area transportation issues for Frederick County is the steadily deteriorating situation on I-270 from here to Germantown. We editorialized not long ago in support of the Buses on Shoulders concept and hope it is given thorough consideration as one potential way to mitigate the daily rush-hour ordeal on I-270. FACT’s contribution to the discussion should help.

Greenwill has been enlisted to help make the case for transportation funding that will benefit Frederick County’s residents and economy — now and “down the road.” That sounds to us like a responsible use of public funds.

Transportation Committee hires lobbying group

Transportation Committee hires lobbying group

The Frederick News-Post

By Kelsi Loos News-Post Staff | Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:00 am

The Frederick Area Committee for Transportation says it has a plan to make its voice heard in Annapolis this session.

With a $25,000 allotment from the Board of County Commissioners, it enlisted the Greenwill Consulting Group to help lobby in favor of county transportation projects.

Greenwill has experience with transportation issues, although this will be its first time working directly with a transportation committee.

It represents the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and has addressed transportation on the chamber’s behalf, government relations associate Jeanette Ortiz said.

Ortiz also worked with various levels of government as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s policy director. She served as deputy director of the Base Realignment and Closure process subcabinet, which involved transportation issues at Fort Detrick.

FACT members Carol Krimm and Mel Fair are set to go to Annapolis with Commissioner Paul Smith, the committee’s liaison, early in February to discuss county transportation priorities. They also plan to testify on the county’s needs at budget meetings.

The three key priorities for FACT, committee president Krimm said, will be evaluating a buses-on-shoulders program, projects at the airport and how to leverage Fort Detrick to secure federal transportation funding for projects related to the base.

The buses-on-shoulders program allows buses to bypass congestion by riding on the shoulders at low speeds in designated areas at designated times. In Frederick, the program aims to encourage transit use and take cars off I-270.

“Whenever you can make bus travel quicker and more reliable, which this would do, then you’re going to increase ridership even more,” county traffic engineer Ron Burns said.

The airport will be a focus because of its economic potential, Krimm said.

The group will focus on other areas as well, such as making sure system preservation projects receive funding.

When the session is over, FACT will set its sights on Congress, aiming to capitalize on area representatives’ powerful positions in the Senate and House.

Krimm noted that Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-8th, is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski is chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations.

“We want to utilize them to the best of our ability and get as much money as we can back to Frederick and to highlight the benefit of Frederick County to the overall economic viability of the state of Maryland,” Krimm said.

Securing transportation funding can be a challenge, Ortiz said, when there is so much uncertainty around the state budget. However, she considers Frederick’s delegation and county commissioners strong voices in Annapolis.

“I think we have the right amount of support,” she said.