Friday, May 4, 2018

Change partners; the dance is over

Let's say you have a job as a pizza delivery person.

"You have a job as a pizza delivery person."

OK, now let's say you and your boss at Pete Seria's Carryout both got in trouble for delivering pizzas for another company while you got paid by Pete.  Such serious trouble, in fact, that your boss got sent to jail for lying and saying he didn't have a side job at Pizza My Heart.

So with your former boss in the cooler, some people want to promote you to his vacated position, ignoring the fact that you signed a form that said you had no part-time income while, in fact, you did.

And then you get that job, only to be told two weeks later that the state authority that oversees your position (and aren't we glad there IS such an authority!) says, "Hold on. Not so fast..."

Hypotheticals aside, this is what is happening in my dear Baltimore County with their public school system. The former boss of it all, Dallas Dance, is now cooling his heels in some county hoosegow in Virginia after pleading guilty here to four counts of perjury, namely, lying about that outside income (because the 287 G's he made here annually was not enough to support his flashy lifestyle.)

My beloved Towson High School
But in the investigation into all that duplicity, it turned out that the next-in-line person, Verletta White, also had outside action while being paid here, and had failed to acknowledge so on her disclosure form. She was on the payroll, for less money than Dance was raking in, but with large companies doing the same sort of business  - school business. While she was not charged with a crime, this still constitutes an eyebrow-raising situation.

Her rationale was explained in an email to the school community, in which she said, "The honest mistake I made was not writing these consultants fees on school system financial disclosure forms.  When I completed these forms, I was under the impression that I was to only list companies with whom the school system had a contract or a pending contract.  I was mistaken."

They just asked if she had outside income.  And is it too much to ask a person being well-paid by the county not to work for anyone else?

So, like in the classic magic bit where a magician pulls the tablecloth out and all the cups, saucers and plate remain in place, the state superintendent of schools, Karen Salmon, said that was an ethical violation, and until an audit can be done to see just what plates and forks belong where on this table, she has declined the local school board's request to name White as the permanent superintendent.

Listen. This is a county deeply steeped in the Maryland tradition of graft and four-flushing. I could not help but point out that as Dance slunk away from his sentencing in the courthouse, he was just a hundred yards away from the old courthouse, where Spiro Agnew used to sit in his office as county executive, taking bagfulls of bribe money from paving contractors.  And when I worked for the county, I worked for the county and for no one else, so it is possible to do so.

For all I know, Ms White would be the perfect person to lead the schools and their students and teachers into the 2020s with vision and clarity and definition of purpose and goal...except for the issue of working for others while she was working for us.

I'm just one citizen, saying I think it's best to start all over with a clean slate.

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