Will School Board “Dance” Away from Ethics Complaint?
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 18th January 2017

January 2, 2014 5:44 pm ET

Superintendent’s side work at center of new controversy

Source: Will School Board “Dance” Away from Ethics Complaint?

To answer my own question from the headline, “You’re darn tootin’ they will…”

But, it wouldn’t be much of a blog if I left it at that, so let’s cut to the chase. After all, the issue at hand is a simple one, at least in my estimation.

According to an article in the Sun, Superintendent of Baltimore County Schools Dr. Dallas Dance may be involved in a conflict of interest. And, regarding that potential conflict, a complaint was filed by Pat McDonough a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

That leaves us with what, in the vernacular, is called a sticky wicket.

(Sound man, cue in my Charlie Rich song, please: “When we get behind closed doors…”)

In other words, something needs to be done (you know, “shoulda, coulda, woulda…) but, as it is usually in the case of the county, something is NOT being done.

If that doesn’t make any sense, then I know something that will. Let’s play “follow the bouncing ball” on this:

·         Someone in the county messes up big time.

·         The press hoots and hollers.

·         Those caught in the act do their best DeNiro impersonation (“You talkin’ to me???”).

·         The door slams shut.

You can hear it echo in the halls of the county office building. “Circle the wagons men, their shootin’ at us again!”

However, the shots you hear in Towson are not bullets; they are doors slamming shut.

Now here is an interesting quote from the Sun article on this faux pas:

Baltimore County school board member Michael Collins said Dance’s outside contract “sounds as if it is something that ought to be thoroughly investigated by the full board to determine the propriety of this type of activity for the superintendent to be undertaking.”

Hmm … did I just hear a door slam shut?

Then again, here is a quote from another member of that same board, except he is the president. (His name should ring a bell, by the way; and, no, this is not Ding Dong School.)

The board has reviewed Dance’s contract and the school system’s ethics policy and has found that “there is no indication that Dr. Dance’s performance as superintendent was in any way adversely impacted” by the consulting, according to Schmidt.

Sounds like there is a little discontent in ABC Land, don’t you think? There is something grinding here, and it ain’t my teeth … rather, it is some stimulated gray matter.

Oh, by the way, the Schmidt mentioned above is Lawrence Schmidt—president of the school board and noted law partner of Jim Smith.

By the way since when do the people who hired Dr. Dance investigate him?  That, as the saying goes is not ethical.

Now, as a person with an inquisitive mind, I thunk [sic] to myself, “Maybe I need to go to school again and peel back the layers on this deal.” I mean, if you think for one minute that Delegate McDonough’s complaint won’t wind up in the car wash and shined up a little, then you can keep your own doctor, if you will.

My gut feeling (no gut comments, please) is this: if you connect the dots—as Mick Jagger crooned—“You just might find you get what you need.” (Credit: You Can’t Always Get What You Want)

So, with that in mind, I will once again file the “dreaded” PIA and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

With that said, dear readers, I want you to think about this objectively for a moment. How does a contract worth $875,000 from the windy city of Chicago wind up at the doorstep of the Baltimore County Board of Education? Just how on earth can you connect those dots?

It makes one wonder which dot is responsible for this one? I think the contract will speak volumes, but I will reserve judgment until I see it in writing.

Gee, I almost forgot—I have to ask for any documents or records that linked the windy city to the county of hot air to get to the bottom of this.

Now, here is the $64,000 question: Why does McDonough even have to file this complaint?

Maybe my recent conversation with the ethics commission will help put this in perspective. A while back, I called the county ethics commission to inquire about the protocol for its public meetings. After some hemming and hawing, the commission found out I had a few questions to ask, at which point my call was transferred to some “big ethics person” (or BEP for short). The conversation went something like this:

BEP: Why do you want to come to our boring meeting Mr. Beeler?

Me: To ask questions.

BEP: What kind of questions Mr. Beeler?

Me: Oh, the usual stuff … like why you aren’t doing your job.

BEP: (Ugh … gulp … stutter … stammer) Geez, you want to attend our little old meeting?

Me: (Plainly and to the point) Yep.

BEP: (Ugh) Mr. Beeler, what kind of questions are you going to ask? (At this point, I thought I would give BEP a hint.)

Me: Well, for one, why would your people tell me the ethics board only investigates complaints when a citizen files a complaint? Are you aware that is not what the county code states, and that process is blatantly false?

I would publish the response, but BEP just keep repeating the words “stutter” and “stammer” followed by the admission that the person who told me that would be flogged. (In other words, that person was wrong.)

Finally, I asked BEP why the ethics commission has been asleep at the wheel. The response? “Well, Mr. Beeler, we can’t read every news item concerning problems in the county.”

I suppose that answer is correct. After all, it would take a staff of thousands to accomplish that, and there is no such staff waiting in the wings.

So, here we are at another crossroads where justice either will be sidestepped or trampled.

In fairness, I will give the befit of the doubt until my PIA comes back. Santa didn’t bring it to me, even though I was a good boy. (I hope I don’t get another lump of coal.)

Stay tuned, dear readers. I get the feeling there will be plenty more to say on this issue in the future.

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