Commission a fig leaf for exec's aim to control board

Letter to the editor

October 04, 2011

I am deeply concerned about the process being used to alter the county school board.

Our county executive says he does not like the way the school board is acting and wants to change the way the school board is constituted. To validate his viewpoint, he appointed a commission dominated by people with the same viewpoint as his. Then, when they recommend exactly what he wanted in the first place, he claims it to be an "independent" recommendation. If there is such a thing as "money laundering," this is certainly its equivalent: "politics laundering." What goes in dirty comes out clean.

The recommendation of the commission is to replace the current seven board members elected at-large with five board members elected from councilmanic districts and two appointed by the county executive. This gives the county executive enormous and unjustified power over the most costly line item in the county budget and, more importantly, over the education of our children. His two appointees, together with just two of the five elected board members, could create a majority that would act counter to the will of the majority of the electorate.

I am not alone in my opposition to recommendation. In a strongly worded formal resolution, the Howard County PTA voiced its opposition to the process and its outcome. At the last meeting of the commission, Commissioners Felicita Sola-Carter and Chaunfayta Hightower, members of the Hispanic and African-American communities, respectively, voiced significant concerns about having appointed Commissioners and requested the subject be reopened for discussion. The Chairwoman promptly vetoed their request.

The proposal will remove power from the electorate. We should take more time to consider the proposal, provide several opportunities for public input and, finally, put the measure to a referendum vote (as was done in 1974 when we voted to move from an appointed school board to an elected one).

Julian A. Levy Jr.

Wilde Lake

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