DeLacy steps down from campaign committee

Howard teachers union leader cites conflict of interest while deciding board of education endorsements

May 22, 2010|By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun

The head of the union representing teachers and support staff in the Howard County school system has removed herself from a school board candidate's campaign committee.

Ann DeLacy, president of the Howard County Education Association, said last week that she will no longer serve on the campaign committee for Brian Meshkin, an executive with a bioscience company. Her organization is scheduled to interview candidates to decide endorsements, which will be announced next month.

"I don't want to give the perception that the HCEA is biased against any other candidate," DeLacy said. "I don't want my personal support to impact the support of the union. I don't want to diminish the process we use for endorsing candidates."

Meshkin, a 33-year-old Fulton resident, said he understands and respects DeLacy's decision.

"I completely understood the instruction she received from the union," he said. "As someone who has a tremendous amount of respect for the HCEA, I believe in their desire for transparency. I look forward to the review by the HCEA."

The seats of four board members, Frank Aquino, Sandra French, Pat Gordon and Larry Cohen, are on the ballot this year. French, who is entering her 16th year on the board, plans to seek re-election, as does Aquino, who is seeking a second term. Gordon, who has served on the board for the past 10 years, has said she will not seek re-election, and Cohen has yet to announce his intentions.

In addition, Larry Walker, a parent who has been active in the school system for decades, and David Proudfoot, an administrator in Baltimore County schools, have filed paperwork with the Howard County Board of Elections stating their intention to run. Candidates have until July 6 to file. A primary will be held Sept. 14; the general election is Nov. 2.

Meshkin said he would welcome DeLacy back to his campaign after the completion of the endorsement process.

"I look forward to Ann joining whatever campaign committee she would like to," he said.

DeLacy stressed that her decision is in no way meant as a slight against Meshkin.

"He's a very fine individual and a high-caliber person," she said. "He's earned my trust and respect."

Tentative salary agreement

DeLacy's organization, which represents the system's 4,600 teachers and 2,020 educational support staff, also recently reached a tentative agreement with the school system that will result in a step increment on the salary scale increase, or a $500 raise.

The agreement also includes a reduction in the Board of Education's contribution to medical benefits from 90 percent to 87 percent for current employees. The board will contribute 85 percent for employees hired after June 30, 2011. DeLacy's members are in the process of ratifying the agreement.

The changes are reasonable in the current economic state, according to Howard County schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin.

"The operating budget currently before the County Council is a maintenance of effort budget," Cousin said in a prepared statement. "That is, it covers operating expenses but no new initiatives or programs. These agreements reflect that reality."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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