Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Wallis’ campaign under review by the Board of Education

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, June 1, 2006

An open letter to the members of the Board of Education,

The Howard County Times reports today that the Board of Education plans to review the schools' ethics code following an announcement by Mr. Stephen Wasslis that he will seek election for Howard County Executive, a partisan election, while maintaining his role as a school administrator.

Mr. Wallis' position is that he sees no conflict with the job and a campaign for County Executive.

I applaud the Board of Education for under taking this review.  It is prudent and justified.  However, I would encourage you to go beyond a review of the schools' ethics code.  I believe it is necessary to review the Hatch Act.  The principle (pardon the pun) point is to review whether Mr. Wallis has control or influence over the use of federal funding received by the Board of Education  If Mr. Wallis has any influence over federal funding I believe you should also seek an opinion from the Office of Special Council, as it may be a violation of the Hatch Act.

Federal guidelines regarding the use of federal funding are vey clear in this area.

Unfortunately, Mr. Wallis' only reported statements do little to assure me that he has done his due diligence on the matter.

He sent an e-mail this week stating:

"I see no conflice as achool principal.  Others throughout the nation have run, while maintaining similiar postiions…I believe that both goals are noble, and I will devote the required time and effort to each."

He is correct, both goals are noble.  However, I ask Mr. Wallis the same question I asked of former Chief of Police, Mr. Livesay.  Have you reviewed federal statutes and are you sure that you are in compliance with the Hatch Act?

States and localities are required to provide assurance of compliance with 18 cross-cutting federal requirements contained in the SF-424, "Application for Federal Assistance," every single time a grant application is submitted to an individual federal agency. In addition, there are other cross-cutting assurances not contained in the Standard Form. These assurances, which consist of two pages in the standard federal grant application for state and local governments, stipulate that the applicant will comply with statutes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Hatch Act and the Davis-Bacon Act (see Appendix C). States and localities submit thousands of grant applications each year and are currently required to recertify each time.

Without a review of these assurances the Board of Education may place its federal funding in jeopardy.

UPDATE:

I have not come to any conclusions regarding this matter.  It is not my intention to leave anyone with that impression.

I am not in a position to know if Mr. Wallis has any influence over any federal funding provided to the Howard County School system or what the ethics guidelines are.  As such I would not be in a position to draw any conclusions at this time.  I leave that in the capable hands of the Board of Education.

I have every confidence in the Board to conduct a thorough and prompt review of the issue at hand, and that the Board will ensure the integrity of an imporant source of school funding.

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4 Responses to “Wallis’ campaign under review by the Board of Education”

  1. Hayduke said

    Just when you thought you were done with the Hatch Act…

    Have you considered going to law school. At this point, I think you’re already close to an expert on these federal statutes.

    Kidding aside, it does seem that the same requirements that got Livesay apply to Wallis, as well.

  2. hocomd said

    Hayduke, how are you?

    I think it depends. If Wallis has absolutely no influence over the allocation of federal dollars I think he is ok.

    If not then I think he has a decision to make.

    With Livesay and the Hatch Act in the paper, also from what I heard about the influence it had on Herman Charity we can only hope Mr. Wallis was paying attention and did his due diligence. If it turns out he didn’t I think it will be a black eye.

    I emailed the letter to the Bd of Ed e-mail address and copied Courtney Watson and Mary Kay Sigaty. I hope they pursue it.

  3. I am surprised that the aspects of the Hatch Act are part of the standard on-going training for Government employees, such as school systems and police departments. Obviously they are not since both Livesay and Wallis appear to have no clue about them. As you said in a previous post, Livesay claimed he’d never even heard about the Hatch Act.

    I know in my job, becasue we have contracts for the Federal Government and deal with certain aspects of the Federal Governemnt, we have constant on-going training about what we can and can not do regarding political activity as well as other activites that might involve financial or social considerations. It is ingrained into our heads that if we violate any of these restrictions, the company and the individual can be held responsible for any legal issues that might arise from those affiliations.

    If it is not already a part of the training for school systems and police departments, and based on Wallis and Livesay’s limited knowledge of it it appears not to be, then it should be added at once. It is more than ust politics, there are also many financial restrictions on people who work for, or have sustained dealings with, the Federal Government.

  4. Oops, I meant to say I am surprised they are NOT part of the standard on-going training

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