Here we go again. When it comes to domestic violence, Montgomery County's elected officials enjoy hearing the sounds of their own voices.
No one should enjoy the statistics that were released this week, that showed the rate of child abuse and neglect skyrocketing by nearly 30% in Montgomery County. Remember, we are the richest county in Maryland. And under the supposedly politically-correct leadership of an all-Democrat county council and executive.
Yet Anne Arundel County - under the leadership of Republican executive John Leopold - had a decrease in its abuse rate. A rare exception among counties, and Mr. Leopold is to be applauded.
I want to take this opportunity again to point out that domestic violence needs to be a Republican issue. This year, I launched an initiative to turn words into action on domestic violence in Montgomery County.
By September, when reports of this popped up in The Gazette, our all-talk Democrat officials were scrambling to respond. Within two weeks of a cable-televised speech I gave on behalf of the Heartly House shelter (www.HeartlyHouse.org) in Frederick, Duchy Trachtenberg was calling a press conference.
After two years of inaction, Councilmember Trachtenberg announced that she was beginning efforts toward the creation of a "one-stop shop for domestic violence victims" in Rockville. I'm not sure if this is even the best use of scant resources for this cause. No one I have discussed ideas with on how to reduce domestic violence has even suggested such a thing. It not only sounds like another expensive bureaucracy, but is reactive, rather than proactive.
There are some county and state legal reforms that would make a difference before a woman or child becomes a victim. Isn't that the real goal here? We don't just want to help victims, but to reduce this terror for once and for all.
Our state's archaic, unconstitutional firearm laws also prevent women from taking a proactive role in defending themselves from domestic and other criminal aggressors. That needs to change as well.
I've also suggested that we pass a county or state law that would mandate 3-5 days of paid leave for victims of domestic violence.
We also have two existing shelters, the Krahnke Center and Heartly House, which need funding more than ever in these tight financial times. They are directly helping victims already, and are more effective than another Big Government bureaucracy.
However, at least the wheels are turning again. It took some action - Republican action - to get people to focus on this issue again. And it's hard to believe that people weren't acting already, given that this year alone has witnessed some of the most horrific domestic violence fatalities in Montgomery and Maryland history.
But this year was just the beginning. I want to do more in 2009, and I'm going to need more people to join in this crusade against domestic violence and the other problems in our county. We can make a difference, and we will.
Despite the all the bad news in 2008, you have to be optimistic. Our county is ripe for change. The failures in leadership are taking us deep into the dark night. But every night comes to an end, and in November 2010, the dawn will be upon us.
To all readers, have a safe New Year's Eve, and a very happy new year. May God bless each and every one of you.