Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Replacement for Sigaty/Watson/Kaufman…Gordon

Posted by bsflag2007 on Monday, November 27, 2006

The Ghosts of BOE Meetings Past, Present, and Future are all right here in the room – will Mr. Ulman learn from them?
Just in case it is not as obvious to him as it is to me…. how about a little primer?

Enter stage left the Ghost of BOE Present…

(lifted from the Baltimore Sun)

”…. Watson was the only member to vote against each motion that will move pupils to Veterans Elementary School in Ellicott City, which is scheduled to open in August.

“I just didn’t feel that enough effort had been placed on moving the neighborhoods closest into the school,” Watson said after the vote last week.

Diane Mikulis, the vice chairman who will return to the board along with Patricia Gordon when the panel expands to seven members next month, said she was comfortable with the plan.

“This is the best of the worst,” Mikulis said. “I think that this is what we need to do.”

Bob Mead of Wheatfield could not believe the board’s decision.

“Are you serious?” he asked. “Most of the parents want their kids to go to the new school instead of driving them all over the county. It just makes sense.”…..”

Well, Bob Mead of Wheatfield, there’s the problem — “it just makes sense”.

Kids going to their own neighborhood school….. what a novel concept! A new school has been built, and kids are going to need to be moved around …. but instead of moving them around so that they go to the closest school, or the one they might reasonably go to the longest… let’s have one more round of our own “HCPSS musical chairs”.

And outgoing Courtney Watson was the only one with the …forsight …. to question this plan?

Lesson from the “present” for Mr. Ulman — new appointee needs to have some backbone, some ability to “stand alone” if necessary to argue for the things that MAKE SENSE.

Whether you like Courtney Watson, or not, she has often stood up against popular and easy for the greater good, the harder “right”. Without her – who will step up? Sandie French? She’s what we need to stand up TO.

Mr. Ulman will be appointing a replacement not just for MKS, but for Courtney and Josh as well —- Josh may not have won the election, but he was an important part of the turn around at BOE – the neutering of the bullies, as it were. What will happen without some backbones and voices of dissent? Are we destined for a return to group think – indoctrination retreats – abdication of responsibility to lawyers?

The Ghost of BOE Past can be summed up in one name … “Sandie French”. ’nuff said.

Lesson for Mr. Ulman — your appointee will have to be able to stand up to a fair amount of Bullying – have a chat with Laura Waters and Virginia Charles…. and Jim O’Donnel…. and have a good long talk with MK Sigaty.

Or just watch the tapes of the BOE meetings — see Ms. Sigaty getting a little terse when she says “Let’s not just look into it, let’s do something.” (paraphrasing) – but is sure sounded to me like she was getting frustrated.

Learn from the past – protect the future.

And finally, our good friend, the Future.

The HoCo BOE /HCPSS has the worst record of planning for the future … I mean, really profoundly lacking in vision and planning. I am hopeful that at least Mr. Aquino has the real world business experience to help make some reasonable choices – and maybe the legal background to rein in the out of control HCPSS Lawyers …. but that’s about it for potential change on the new BOE.

Ellen Giles may have an encyclopedic knowledge of local history and policy- but like so many other “experts”, she spends a lot of time and energy explaining why something “will not work”. Like, “we’ll never have public services in the western part of the county…ever”. She can tell you names and dates of every conversation ever held about extending water and sewer — and she will. This is why she deems it unnecessary to be looking for land for schools “out there”…. because it will never be developed as fully as the east.I bet that’s the same thing the “experts” said 30 years ago. Let’s ask Ellen, I’ll bet she can tell you who said what, when…

Larry Cohen seems like a nice man – with a ton of experience in the educracy. Time will tell if he will use that insider knowledge to fix the parts that don’t work well – or if he is too invested in the history, culture, and camaraderie of the status quo. Hope springs eternal.

And then we have Pat Gordon. A nice enough old gal – 83 years old… says she is too “tired” to stand up for what she says she believes. An election cycle “place holder”. Don’t worry Mr. Ulman – you’ll be able to appoint a second BOE member, so you can afford to “take a chance” on the first appointment.

The Ghost of BOE Future is giving you, Mr. Ulman, a chance to change the trajectory of this sorry, stagnant, uninspired, “doesn’t make sense” path…. will you?

There are folks who would make terrific school board members who are just terrible politicians.

I guess we can’t hope for an actual jump across the aisle to appoint Roger Lerner — though he would be a great BOE member — unafraid to ruffle feathers, but too smooth and civil to be unnecessarily confrontational — smart, experienced, caring, all kinds of good things —- but a republican in a Democratic county… unlikely to overcome that particular obstacle and unwilling to sell his soul on the campaign trail for a few votes.

But you, Mr. Ulman, as the elected leader of the WHOLE county – not just the ones in your party – wouldn’t it be a nice idea to acknowledge the need for “everyone” to “feel” like they are being represented? Is there any doubt the Democrats are represented on the BOE? Take a page from Eisenhower. Consider Roger Lerner.

But then, even more underrepresented are the “independent voices”. The anti-status quo folks who are “never” going to get an elected representative with the current electoral system. With seven seats on the board – would it be sooo bad to have one of them represent 1/7th of the citizens? Allen Dyer has worked long and hard at great personal expense to right wrongs, protect the integrity of the local republic, he’s a combat veteran, a trained lawyer, a gifted computer geek —- and he’s proved himself willing to be David to the Goliath of the BOE educrats… let’s not forget it turns out he was RIGHT when he said the BOE was breaking the law … and that illegal stuff involving money was happening behind closed doors.

You say the voters have already spoken about these guys? No, I don’t think so. The voters made choices based on all kinds of weird criteria —- but tens of thousands of them DID vote for these guys — I don’t recall a box for VOTE AGAINST either of them.

I have some other ideas for terrific BOE appointees. Call me, we’ll talk.

Cindy Vaillancourt


3 Responses to “Replacement for Sigaty/Watson/Kaufman…Gordon”

  1. Don M said


    I would suggest that you send your comments (and anyone else with comments or suggestions) to Ken Ulman’s transition team so they can get the real picture.

    I believe that you are right that the appointee needs to be someone that will not be pushed around and he/she also definitely needs to be someone outside the system. It needs to be someone that will ask the kind of questions that need to be asked. How much for the Boardroom makeover? I’m not sure who of the six would actually stand up for the little guy.

    There are common sense issues like “Why are you bussing students four miles away when there is a school right across the street?” or “Why hasn’t the facilities inventory been completed so that a comprehensive plan for school renovations can be developed?”. With Mary Kay, Courtney and Joshua, I think we got that real world picture because they were active in business and their communities.


  2. bsflag2007 said

    It is interesting that there is so little interest in the BOE position ot the BOE in general. Public Schools use 60 % of our loal tax dollars and are the largest employer in the county — and nearly everyone in the county is effected daily by the school inone way or another…. and yet there is such complacency with this public body.

    I don’t understand this.

    Cindy Vaillancourt

  3. Don M said

    The more things change, the more they stay the same?

    BOE Vacancy Draws New Candidates

    So who is Tiny Tim?

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