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Commissioners: Employees Can Pray in County Building at Lunch

Following a commissioner's invitation to county employees to pray in the county office building, the board of commissioners proposed a policy defining how and when employees can use the county office building facilities.

The , in response to revelations a board member invited county employees to prayer sessions in the county office building, proposed a policy this week allowing such actions but only during off hours such as at lunch or before or after work.

The proposal Thursday came on the heels of an .  In early May, the county clerk sent an email on Frazier's behalf inviting county employees to pray with her at 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays in the county office building.

that Commissioner Doug Howard had reservations about the invitation because it used the county email system to send non-business correspondence.

David Rocah, staff for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said once a county government chooses to use its resources for such purposes, it has to make them available to all employees for similar solicitations.

He also said some employees may feel compelled to attend.

But Jim Backlin, a spokesman for the Christian Coalition of America, said, "We don't see any problem with holding a prayer group in a county government building."

The state attorney general's office declined comment.

Howard said in Thursday's meeting that as a result of Frazier using a county office building room for a prayer group, the commissioners realized that there was no formal policy in place that defined how and when employees could use the county office building for their own needs.

Under the new policy, any county employee can reserve a room for use during business hours but only during personal time, such as during lunch or after his or her work day ends.

Carroll County resident Bonnie Grady asked the board to discuss any disciplinary action that might be taken against Frazier over the prayer email, but Howard said he wanted to "clear up a gross misconception” that any such action would take place.

“I don’t know where that notion came from,” Howard said in reference to another news organization's report. “It’s never been discussed."

The county’s communication policy (see attached document) states that "the county’s business communication system shall not be used to promote political or religious causes.”

Frazier told Patch that she doesn’t consider inviting workers to pray a cause and that she did not violate the communications policy by sending the email invitation.

Frazier cited other county communication she deemed more of a cause, including the annual Christmas Tree lighting and the annual Neighbors in Need drive conducted by . Neighbors in Need is a program that coordinates Christmas holiday "adopt a family" services and gift drives for families in need.

Howard said that a violation of the communications policy by any employee would warrant a warning from a supervisor to end the practice.

At a citizen’s request, the board agreed to wait two weeks before voting on the building use policy to allow public comment.

The Carroll County Democratic Central Committee voted Thursday evening to explore filing a formal complaint with the Carroll County Ethics Commission over Frazier's email.

CCDCC Chair Jackie Jones said the group is researching the best way to proceed but intends to file a complaint about use of county resources by the commissioners for personal and political purposes.

Bonnie Grady May 18, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Somebody's lying, somebody's telling the truth...is it the commissioners or the Carroll County Times? Reporter Christian Alexandersen reported a few days ago that the commissioners were going to discuss whether or not to discipline fellow commissioner Robin Frazier, but Howard and Rothschild both stated on-camera yesterday that they were not aware of that until it appeared in the newspaper. And they also said there will be no discipline. So if Frazier is not subject to employee policies because she's not an employee, how is she able to use the county office building for her weekly meetings under the employee use of public buildings guidelines? Which is it, commissioners? I think your noses are growing.
David J Iacono May 18, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Did anyone really expect a different result from this Board of Commissioners?
Joe Hollingsworth May 18, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I think she needs to shut up, and stop bullying county employees into attending her bogus prayer meetings. After all, she has no more belief in Jesus than the man in the moon. Fraiser, like all the rest of her fascist-conservative ilk worship only Money. Let us say NO to the Carroll Commisioner of the Inquisition!
Bonnie Grady May 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM
This is what happens when you have single-party government. The Republicans complain because Annapolis is controlled by Democrats. In Carroll county the Democrats complain because the commissioners are all Republicans. The bottom line is, if all the elected officials at any level are all of the same party, there is no check-and-balance system, no accountability. They do as they please until the power shifts at election time. Is this a good way to run a country, a state, a county or a town?
Bonnie Grady May 18, 2012 at 10:01 PM
And Mrs. Frazier needs to visit HSP and learn about this vibrant nonprofit organization and their unique community services programs, including Neighbors in Need. Where in the world did she get the idea that HSP is a religious group???
Alissa May 18, 2012 at 10:06 PM
I have a feeling that Jim Backlin wouldn't be so keen on the idea of prayer in a public space if it was Muslim prayer. As a taxpayer in Carroll County, I don't particularly want to pay for the electricity in the room where Ms. Frazier will conduct her personal business.
David J Iacono May 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Let's get a petition going to change the county rules to allow recall elections for commissioner misconduct and malfeasance. The petition could ask for a referendum calling for citizen recalls on the next ballot. Since the President of the Board, Doug Howards, lacks a pair, this seems to be the only way for county citizens to address commissioner misconduct and malfeasance.
Bonnie Grady May 18, 2012 at 11:55 PM
David, that might be a good idea. It's certainly being tested by Teaparty groups around the country. If they don't like someone who's currently in office, and there's no recall mechanism, they get a referendum put on the ballot and then get the incumbent removed. This is what a bunch of folks tried to do in New Windsor recently. Perhaps we should take a page from the Teaparty's playbook.
ESPinCC May 19, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Sign me up!
Wearedoomedcc May 19, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Daviid you are right, we need some type of recall system or referendum to oust these 5,
Neil Ridgely May 19, 2012 at 01:04 PM
County employees have always been free to pray during the workday, as they should be. It is the decision by Frazier to make a mountain out of a molehill for her own political purposes that makes this such an outrage. Many county employees bow their heads for a prayer before their meals at work. Many pray daily for guidance in their daily work for the citizens of Carroll - in difficult jobs that are sure to displease some while helping others. There is also a chapel right behind the County Office Building on Court Street for those needing the solace of a place to pray less busy than an office building. Prayer is a personal matter, not one for display at a workplace at the exclusion of others of different faiths or the promotion of one's career to favor one of those who signs your paycheck. Commissioner Frazier has taken a private matter and made a grandiose display of it solely to promote her personal beliefs and political career. I hope County empoyees that choose topray daily continue to pray, in silence and not at the expense of their fellow employees.
Kelly May 19, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I was thinking the same thing.
Native May 19, 2012 at 02:02 PM
The only difference is that when democrats are in charge, it costs the rest of us big money in taxes & fees. When Republicans are in charge, all the democrats can complain about is little things like prayer meetings & such. Much ado about nothing!
Native May 19, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Sorry Neil, but the only ones making a mountain out of a molehill are you people here complaining about Comissioner Frazier.
Buck Harmon May 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I believe that this effort mocks true Christian intent in that it breeds unnecessary turmoil within the community... a true Christian would avoid weaving personal values into a mix of contempt. God would not smile at this behavior, only bad things will come of it in the long run. Sometimes it's just best to admit that an honest mistake was made and get on with governing the County. How does this dividing maneuver help to improve life in Carroll County in any way ?
Native May 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Jesus wasn't popular at first either! He didn't "go with the flow" & try to appease everyone.
Buck Harmon May 19, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Not even a remotely close comparison....really kinda dumb...
Buck Harmon May 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Why not just answer my question Native....?
Native May 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM
1 - I disagree. It's not meant to be a close comparison, I'm just illustrating 2 religious people trying to do the right thing with scores of detractors. 2 - The only division is with people that refuse to be inclusive & accept the fact that there is really nothing wrong here at all.
Buck Harmon May 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Jesus was not religious, in fact, I believe that Jesus probably believes that serious differences in religion are extremely divisive. Your opinion that there is nothing wrong here is wrong as well....Frazier is wrong and you are wrong...two wrongs can't possibly make it right...at all.
Buck Harmon May 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
How will County employees that are on the road in far reaches from the office building get to the prayer session and back to work within the allotted lunch time...and eat..to boot?
newsjunkie May 20, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Amen, Neil. It's just disgusting what Frazier is doing in the name of religion.
Judy Robertson May 25, 2012 at 12:44 AM
The last time I checked, we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech in this country. We also each can make our own decision whether to accept invitations to parties, meetings, and, yes, even a prayer meeting! It is not wrong to issue an invitation to a meeting, even if something as taboo as praying is involved. Commissioner Bartlett-Frazier has done nothing wrong.

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