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Zirkin Takes 'Insurance Policy' On School Board Bill

Senator says County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is "going around the legislative process" to hold up partially-elected school board bill.

UPDATE (8:05 p.m.)—A vote on a state bill that would allow County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to consolidate some school system functions into existing county operations was delayed in the Senate late Saturday.

The delay, called for by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, appears to be in retaliation for an effort to bring a partially-elected school board to Baltimore County.

"I have concerns about the bill," said Zirkin.

Concerns about the passage of the partially-elected school board?

Before Zirkin could answer, Sen. Jim Brochin interrupted and called Zirkin's procedural move "an insurance policy."

"There's a number of issues involving the school board and if the county executive wants to discuss them then he should come down here and discuss them with the delegation," said Zirkin. "If he wants to go around the legislative process, that's certainly his prerogative."

Kamenetz has expressed his opposition about the partially elected school board to Del. Sheila Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. The House bill creating a board with six elected and five appointed members was amended by the Senate and needs approval of Hixson's committee and the full House by Monday at midnight in order to become law.

Meanwhile, Kamenetz would like to see his consolidation bill pass. Earlier this week, a county lobbyist, in a letter, in holding that bill up in committee.

Zirkin laid the blame for the delay of the school board bill squarely on Kamenetz, a fellow Democrat.

"He's (Kamenetz) unfortunately putting his own interests and power before that of the people of Baltimore County," said Zirkin. "It is what it is. This is who we elected."

UPDATE: In the House of Delegates Saturday night, Del. Wade Kach delayed a vote on another bill Kamenetz wants—a bill that would limit the amount of time a car can be parked in a designated handicapped space around the Old Courthouse in Towson.

Asked if the delay was tied to the school board bill, Kach replied: "Absolutely."

"There are other things we can do, too," said Kach, a Cockeysville Republican. "We'll do them all."

Kach called the school board bill "the most important item we have down here. Nothing else is even close."

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Donna McDonough April 09, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in the county exec. The issue of elected vs. appointed is extremely complicated. Both have serious political implications, but as it is now, the board is accountable to no one. My whole family including husband and 2 children all attended and graduated from county schools, and I am currently a teacher. Besides a lack of accountability, there are few if any stakeholders involved in running the county schools. It has to be difficult for a group of people who aren't involved in the schools to make informed decisions about policies and procedures that affect thousands of students and teachers. A hybrid board could have teachers and parents through elections, in the mix. As it is, the likelihood of an ordinary person on the board is about impossible. And yes one could be out spent to get elected, but it's an unpaid position, so why do it. I may be naive, but anything has to be better than our current system. The lack of any connection to the system and the complete lack of transparency in this board is disturbing at least and our students and the county taxpayers deserve better.
Karl April 09, 2012 at 06:00 AM
I finally figured out why Kevin Kamenetz's letter to Shiela Hixon would be post dated. Here is the email I sent to my delegates and senator. I hope they will send someone to get copies. You may want to forward my email to your legislators too. A post-dated letter and a refusal to make the letter available by fax or Internet compound the issues. It's not pretty. The Coalition for an Elected School Board in Baltimore County has asked me to provide the Kamenetz letter to Hixon. "Why can't you just fax it to me?" Here's my response: "I've told you all I can say without divulging my source. I had my hip replaced last Monday. I'm not going to Annapolis tomorrow to get a copy of the letter for myself. I can say that the letter is dated February 16, 2012. In the letter Kamenetz refers to the hiring of new Superintendent Dance, which occurred on March 27. ... See More
Karl April 09, 2012 at 06:04 AM
I've been wondering why anyone would risk their credibility by clumsily post-dating a letter. The only motive I can imagine is that Kamenetz and/or Hixon wants to claim that he sent the letter last month, not just a few days ago. It appears they want to defend themselves from charges of legislative impropriety, because Kaminetz asked Hixon to hold up the bill AFTER Baltimore County Delegates and Senators had agreed to promote two bills, 100% elected and the other hybrid. "Regardless, I don't have a copy and I won't ask my source to risk exposure. Anyone of you can go to Hixon's H & W office and get a copy tomorrow. Who knows, maybe they will have changed the letter date again. If they do that, I WILL get the post-dated copy, which office personnel handed out Saturday".   Incidentally, H & W office personnel said they would not Fax or email the letter to anyone.  One must go to the office to get a copy.  I believe that's another infraction of the Maryland Code. Truly Yours, Karl
Wildcat68 April 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Bring back Joe Bartenfelder. Just admit we made a mistake and let's get on with it. Kevin Kamenetz is the worst county executive I've ever seen. I like following politics and I know Jim Smith well. This would never have happened if Jim Smith was executive. Someone please run against Kevin Kamenetz. I will be your first volunteer.

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