Howard County Maryland Blog

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Archive for the ‘Cindy V’ Category

Howard County Maryland Blog Milestone

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today the Howard County Maryland Blog has 500 posts/essays and 2,085 comments.

The blog started one and a half years ago on May 29, 2005.

We have had over 47,000 visitors averaging almost 200 per day.  Of those 200 visitors over 40 are regular readers.

Technorati ranks us at 148,471 out of millions of blogs they monitor/track.

We have four writers contributing to this blog and are accumulating new readers and commentors all of the time.

Thanks for your support and please leave us a message today.

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Posted in Cindy V, David Keelan, Ed C, Howard County Blogs, Jim Walsh | 4 Comments »

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

Posted in Cindy V, County Executive, Education, Howard County | 3 Comments »

Hardball or Hardheadedness?

Posted by bsflag2007 on Monday, November 20, 2006

I like true leadership in an elected official – and I don’t believe in pure “majority rule”. In theory, the proclamations made by our fearless leaders – who vow to stand on principle, popular opinion notwithstanding – fit my view of the role of a good leader.

However …. there is steadfast, then there is stubborn.

There is leadership that persuades through sheer force of logic, reason and passion. Then there is stomping your feet and holding your breath till you turn blue…

Then there is the current republican leadership in Washington that continues to stain all who identify themselves with the party with the splatter as they continue to stomp their bloody stumps.

Apparently the recent election results were not a referendum on policy, philosophy, or direction…. they were a challenge to find ways to jam the ideological agenda down the throats of the infidels at a more desperate pace and with less concern for even a veneer of finesse.

Local politicians will continue to bear the brunt of the backlash as frustration with the inability of the electorate to make their voices heard – and responded to – on a national level.

A previous post pointed out the extraordinarily tone deaf elections of the same old same old blundering …… leaders …. for the now minority republican leadership in the congress —- but take a good look at the in your face, bird flipping that the white house has given women of reproductive age in recent days.

” The Bush administration, to the consternation of its critics, has picked the medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex, contraception and abortion to lead the office that oversees federally funded teen pregnancy, family planning and abstinence programs.”

This guy, Keroack, is the medical director of A Woman’s Concern, a Christian nonprofit based in Dorchester, Massachusetts which “runs six centers in the state that offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and counseling.” However, the more telling mission is found in its “statement of faith” where it claims to “help women escape the temptation and violence of abortion.”

It opposes contraception, saying its use increases out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion rates. “A Woman’s Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness,” its contraception policy reads in part.

“Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said “common sense” initiatives might include requiring health insurance companies to cover birth control, requiring that emergency contraception be available at hospitals for rape victims, and ensuring that sex education for young people includes accurate information about contraceptives.” OMG, heresy!
“The appointment of anti-birth control, anti-sex education advocate Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee the nation’s family planning program is striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation’s priorities,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

These lunatic democrats were hoping that the new congress would be able to advance programs proved to reduce unwanted pregnancies and premature sexual activity among teenagers – like education, accurate contraception information, and programs that encourage hope for brighter futures.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins sums up the desperate view “… anticipate the fiercest assault of our time against abstinence, marriage, life, good judges, and religious freedom,” Perkins wrote this week in the National Review.

The rightwingnuts are so frightened by that prospect they are determined to pre-emptively strike to cripple teen programs before the dems can turn all teens into hormone driven sex maniacs ….. wait, didn’t God make them hormone driven sex maniacs? Seems reasonable to me to arm them with birth control and high school diplomas.

But then, I’m not the President of the United States — and he “ain’t listening to nobody” — especially the ignorant voters.

Posted in Cindy V, Republicans | 59 Comments »

?Insourcing?

Posted by bsflag2007 on Thursday, November 16, 2006


If “outsourcing” is the practice of sending jobs “out” of the country (or the company) – is the increasing practice of recruiting labor from overseas “insourcing”?

How do we feel about insourcing?   I’m not talking about migrant workers brought in to pick lettuce or mow grass — that’s a whole other can of worms.  I’m talking about what should be highly skilled future of our society kinds of labor-  especially three areas I have recent experience with – health, education and travel.

Having been a recent guest in three of the regions health care facilities, I can report that recruiting for nurses from foreign countries is not a myth.   A quick research project into the regulations/standards applicable to nurses coming to the US to staff our hospitals leaves very large cracks, and I can tell you that I was less than thrilled with the quality of a number of these nurses.

Some of our struggling major airlines are also trying to turn to foreign labor – not due to shortages, but in an effort to reduce labor costs by replacing higher paid American workers.  Maybe folks aren’t too concerned about the replacement flight attendants – but  having airplane maintenance moved to other countries with lower wages might be of some concern.

And then there is education.   We are told there is a nationwide shortage of teachers, particularly in the areas of math and science.  More and more school districts are turning to the Phillipines and other foreign countries to recruit teachers.  Baltimore recently hired a whole boatload of teachers from abroad to man its’ hard to fill posts.  But that’s Baltimore, right?

Wait — if you caught the League of Women Voters’ Board of Education Forum, you would have heard our very own Mrs. Gordon say that we should start looking into hiring teachers from other countries – like Puerto Rico  ( Mrs. Gordon was a teacher for many years… many years ago …. must not have been geography … or history …. or government ….) to address our difficulties finding qualified math and science teachers.

The arguments for recruiting teachers from other countries – actual foreign countries like the Phillipines – generally start off with the notion that we have a shortage of qualified people here in the United States.  But we quickly get to the real problem, work loads and compensation.

The benefits for the “insourced” labor are obvious.  A teacher recruited from the Phillipines to Baltimore will make more than three times more money in Baltimore.  Yes, the cost of living is higher, but dollar per dollar they will be earning a higher standard of living and consider Baltimore an improved work environment.   Plus there are the potential manipulations of the Visa/immigration system.

But what are the real benefits/costs to the school systems?   Are they really recruiting the best and the brightest — or do we “get what we pay for”?  If the cracks in the teacher standards are as wide as those for the nurses (and they are) we should all be wary.

The temporary benefit is that Boards of Education don’t have to face the daunting task of reexamining negotiated contracts with teacher labor unions, they can fill classrooms at minimal cost with warm bodies, and they can buy time.

But it is only a temporary fix because once the “recruit” settles into American life, those who are talented in math and science will find more lucrative options with more desirable working conditions — just like the “regular Americans”.  Or are we planning to make them some kind of indefinitely indentured servants?

We definitely have a shortage of talented math and science teachers — we don’t have a shortage of people who could be great math and science teachers.  We have a shortage of will and vision – and actual leadership.

Insourcing our health care, our airline safety and the educators of our children – what a great idea! — with all the money we save, we can insource a foreign army to take care of our military/defense requirements……

cindy v.

Posted in Cindy V, Howard County | 3 Comments »

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.

Posted in Cindy V, Howard County | 3 Comments »