Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Present Company Excluded

Posted by bsflag2007 on Monday, November 13, 2006

Once upon a time I was stuck in bed for months without cable television or a remote control. The only channel that came in clearly played Phil Donohue, Sally Jesse Raphael, the Golden Girls (twice) and Perry Mason before the lunchtime news. It went downhill from there. In those months I observed two things which have stayed with me as my own “life lessons”.

First, whichever “side” screams, yells, interrupts, is generally rude, or needs everyone’s undivided attention to speak (ie, can I talk now? I can’t talk if anyone else is moving even a little bit… all eyes on me for my big announcement….uh…. i forgot what i was going to say…”) is almost always “wrong”.

Second, no matter how universally true any generalization made by the panelist/interviewee may be – it does not apply to anyone in the audience. Every person present is the exception that makes the rule. All discussions should be prefaced with the cautionary “present company excluded”.

For purposes of discussion only, each member of the audience should be encouraged to assume any criticism does not apply to him — but if he thinks hard enough, he will be able to think of someone he knows it does apply to. We can move on from there.

With those two “rules” in mind – I will be offering posts regarding current events in Howard County which come to my attention. These will focus mainly on the activities of the Board of Education, and the HCPSS. Considering the HCPSS spends 60% of our local budget, is the largest employer in the County, and effects the daily lives of something like 70% of County residents – it is a pretty broad subject.

First topic, the BOE election results. Unlike the races for County Executive or Congressional seats where folks made decisions based on opinions about political party affiliation, specific issues, or perceived character — the Board of Education race came down almost excusively to name recognition. Using the HoCo BOE election results — I suspect Idi Amin, John Wilkes Booth, and possibly Raymond Burr could have been elected. “The name sounds familiar, don’t really know why, but what they heck…”

How else can you explain Sandie French receiving almost 40,000 votes?

She presided over the BOE during the lead-in to the scandalfest of a few years ago – she authorized the illegally closed meetings which resulted in rebuke from the state oversight committee then spent several hundred thousand education dollars litigating technicalities that had nothing to do with the actual infractions – she was the author of many of the “zero tolerance policies” which have led to myriad ludicrous outcomes – she led the BOE into granting a secret contract extension to the superintendent which the Attorney General’s office declared illegal and unenforceable— and she knew the high school day was illegally short but did nothing to correct the problem until our seniors were in jeopardy of being denied state backed diplomas, she asked to be exempt from expense account reporting rules, and on and on…….. But boy does she have name recognition.

The community will have to be vigilent keeping an eye on the doings at BOE lest we sink back into the muck of paternalistic, law breaking, beating the devil around the bush, secret antics.

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3 Responses to “Present Company Excluded”

  1. Don M said

    Stopped by the Board of Elections to get the absentee votes.

    Aquino 44656 13.54%
    French 43921 13.32%
    Gordon 38570 11.70%
    Cohen 37792 11.46%
    Giles 35513 10.77%

    Giles still leads Siddiqui by 1183 votes with only provisionals and ABS2 votes left to count.

  2. bsflag2007 said

    thank you for the update, Don.
    Dr. Siddiqui will likely remain in 6th place. Folks “in the know” seem to think she will be offered Mary Kay Sigaty’s seat -using the theory that if MKS had resigned prior to the election, the top six would have been seated – and therefore Dr. Siddiqui would have earned her seat.
    However, as it is, it is up to the new County Exec to make an appointment. Dr. Siddiqui’s family support for Mr. Ullman probably won’t work against her, and she has not given any reason to think she might do any boat rocking if appointed to the Board — “compliant” is said to be a trait CE’s tend to look for in appointees.
    Dr. Siddiqui would be an “unobjectionable” choice.
    on the other hand…..
    As it currently stands we have a pathetically vanilla BOE at a time when some bold leadership, creative thinking, and diverse views are sorely needed.
    Could there be ANY chance Mr. Ullman will make one of his first acts one of BOLD LEADERSHIP? Perhaps appoint someone with some spunk? Some courage? Enough backbone to stand up to the bullying previous members who resigned could not? Maybe even someone from a different political persuasion in order to provide balance and diverse representation so everyone feels included and valued? Like Eisenhower did with his Supreme Court appointments?
    Cindy V

  3. Don M said

    What is the new Board’s make up and what is it missing? Good subject for a blog post. Maybe for tomorrow.

    There will be 4 new members, 2 current members and a returning member. So who would you predict would be chairman?

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