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Posted at 4:52 PM ET, 03/12/2011

Baker gets lots of advice on how to improve Prince George's government

By Miranda Spivack

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) picked up plenty of advice late Friday about improving the way the county government does its work.

Chief among the recommendations from his 250-member transition team: reward schools and educators that excel, step up county enforcement on environmental violations, expand the county's nonprofit sector and do a better job of communicating basic information to the public. And there's more: streamline the county's economic development efforts and fix the unwieldy permitting process, ideas that Baker is expected to embrace Monday. He is scheduled to issue his first county budget, a nearly $2.7 billion spending plan that will include modest increases for schools and public safety agencies and a $50 million economic development plan.

"This is not just window dressing; this is not for your coffee table," Baker told a gathering of transition team members who had come together in his Upper Marlboro office one final time to hand over their work.

The inch-thick book detailing recommendations is to be posted on the transition team's Web site,

Baker said he welcomed the recommendations but cautioned that he may not be able to embrace them all.

"I just want to see something done in these four years that has never been done before," he said. "I guarantee you that we will have moved this county -- maybe just a little bit -- to where it should be."

Transition team chief Kenneth Johnson, an attorney for Sodexho, said the eight panels, which examined a wide range of issues, had settled on some common themes.

"There should be better access for our citizens. We should consider where we are located. Much as we love Upper Marlboro," he said, referring to the county seat, "it can be difficult to get to Upper Marlboro.

"We need to get services to people."

The county government also should streamline its processes that businesses need "to show we are viable players," Johnson said.

As for improving the county's struggling school system, "you have got to be the visionary leader," he urged Baker, who has no formal role in the county's education system, which is supervised by an appointed superintendent and an elected school board.

"We all have the single same goal of saying this is our house, this is our time. We are going to make this place phenomenal," Johnson said.

By Miranda Spivack  | March 12, 2011; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack, Prince George's County  
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