Being this is one of most powerful offices in the state, and Mr. Kamenetz is crying we’re broke, he’s gotta ask himself one question: “?”
Source: Which Way Will He Go?
Photo credit/Comptroller’s Office: You don’t mess with these men!
It cleanses one’s soul to get out of Dundalk once and a while and go someplace where the air is clean and the stench of politics doesn’t permeate the air in the same manner that the old Bethlehem Steel plant did for decades, with its green dust permeating everything.
While the plant may be gone, the pollution continues. The only thing that has changed is the name of the one spreading the green grime and grunge. Unfortunately, that green dust is in the wind and covers everything in Baltimore County.
So, with that in mind, I decided to take a ride to Towson, where I grew up. I wound up at the Loch Raven Recreation Center Gymnasium to cover the latest town hall community meeting regarding the hot issue of Baltimore County Schools, many of which lack air-conditioning.
The town hall was hosted by State Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has taken on the role of champion fighting for the health and safety of our vulnerable school children and teachers. Simply put, the conditions in the schools during the hot months are reminiscent to sweatshops.
Although there is no manual labor happening here, folks.
It may be hard to believe that we lack basic cooling systems in 52 schools within Baltimore County, which affects some 33,000 students and more than 1,700 teachers.
With that in mind—and after the recent confrontation where Mr. Kamenetz invaded a meeting between Comptroller Franchot, PTA members, teachers, and some students—the battle lines were established.
The county started crying about being “poor” (i.e., lacking funding) and demanding more infusion of funds from the state coffers.
To that, Mr. Franchot rose to the podium and spoke rather sternly, directing his comments at Mr. Kamenetz. “We will get this done, either the easy way or the hard way,” said the Comptroller.
I’m quite sure that Mr. Bryan Sheppard, one of Mr. Kamenetz’s aides, heard those words clearly. Something tells me that Mr. Sheppard will be sure to convey that message to the county executive.
I am also sure that Mr. Kamenetz will experience some gastric distress at that moment.
Mr. Franchot brought some heavy hitters to the meeting—A-listers from the Governor’s office who, one by one, spoke from the podium and reiterated the message, “help is on the way.”
Here are those heavy hitters—dudes you don’t want to mess with these men from the popular Governor’s office:
Budget Secretary, David Brinkley, Planning Secretary David Craig and his chief of staff Brandon Wright, Deputy General Services Secretary Nelson Reichart and Mark Newgent, Policy advisor to Governor Hogan.
Mr. Franchot also had some Baltimore County students, ranging from elementary level to high school seniors, who delivered a common message: “We are suffering from the heat.”
Stories included tales of pregnant teachers almost passing out, fans that did nothing more than blow hot air around, oven-like conditions, students with headaches, and students with lethargic energy levels. Everyone in the audience knew the problem and who is responsible
This was an especially poignant statement that rang some bells: one of the middle school students could not understand how the county could give more consideration to providing laptops and not utilize those funds for an issue that pertains to student health.
I wanted to jump up and yell, “Darn tootin’!”
Imagine Dr. Dance spending $275 million on laptops that a great many of the county students won’t have a clue how to use, much less some of the teachers, since a sizable portion of the students are immigrants facing language barriers and major culture clashes. That is not a good atmosphere for attempting to navigate a tech system that even a sizable portion of the teachers don’t comprehend.
Did I mention that the grade statistics of the county schools have been falling? That is a problem that no laptop will solve.
In addition, evidence from other school jurisdictions shows that those other regions have stopped this lunacy because it does not work. Dr. Dance, in his wisdom and ethics (violation), is pushing this big bucks contract hard.
He is pushing so hard that I might have to take a closer look at that one. I just filed a PIA on the SUPES issue, which should be telling.
This Super Bowl of conflicts is just beginning. Since Mr. Franchot was armed with some heavy hitters from the Governor’s office, some student victims, and some pretty upset parents, Mr. Kamenetz might want to find one of Dr. Dance’s laptops and download a program that deals with managing a budget and dealing with issues that are important to the safety of the children.
I would be willing to bet that the money lost on Dr. Dance’s pie in the sky “laptops for everyone” folly would almost be enough to fund the school AC needs.
Computers don’t run very well in ovens, and neither do young brains.
Health and safety are far more important than a laptop when a newly arrived student immigrant can’t find the right bus to get home—a story documented in the Sun regarding some of the issues facing new students from other cultures.
One final thought—I hope that Mr. Kamenetz understands that the AC situation does not mean a unit for every student plus a new laptop. However, as “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame once said referring to a specific group:
“Forget the myths you’ve heard about the leadership, these aren’t the brightest bulbs in the closet.”
Look around and see how many council members showed up to the meeting: NONE!
That just about covers it, folks.