A clear case of conflict of interest [Letter]

December 22, 2013

Despite all of the discussion about Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance's part-time job with SUPES Academy, no one has yet questioned the apparent conflict of interest of Mr. Dance working for a company that has a no-bid contract with the school system he leads ("School board says Dance should have gotten its OK before taking consulting job," Dec. 17).

Everyone has focused on his taking a position without prior approval of the board. But given his salary of $260,000 a year, one has to question why did he take the position with this firm? Perhaps it will establish a nice network for him when he decides to move on from his position at BCPS?

As I understand it, Mr. Dance decided to get a part time job. But regardless of who the part-time employer was for the moment, why would someone making that kind of a salary want a part-time job?

When we hire people to these high-level positions, why would a contract even suggest that another part-time job is OK, even with prior approval? Why aren't such positions really considered 24/7 jobs? I make a salary that is far less than Mr. Dance's, in a position with nowhere the visibility of his, but my employment contract clearly specifies no other employment, with serious consequences if I violate it. But consequences apparently don't exist in high-level positions like Mr. Dance's.

At the very least an ethics panel should conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. Yet given the recent example of a Baltimore County councilman who "forgot" to report his outside employment for several years — resulting in no action by the council's ethics panel — I fear a similar result in Mr. Dance's case.

The BCPS board has to hope that we will all forget Mr. Dance's little infraction quickly. If I weren't a Baltimore County taxpayer, this matter would be of no consequence to me. But such action on the part of people in high-visibility, high-responsibility positions has to have consequences.

Charles Pepersack, Rosedale

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