I’m told the fix was in from the start. But last night Wicomico County Council added its newest member in District 4’s John Hall and reorganized. Out was two-year County Council President Gail Bartkovich of District 3 and in was former Council Vice-President Joe Holloway of District 5. He was replaced by at-large member Matt Holloway.
And while Joe Holloway announced the decision was by unanimous consent, the lone Democrat on the body chose to wait until Council comments to express her dissent. Maybe Joe didn’t hear her in the hubbub, but I don’t think Sheree Sample-Hughes needed to take up an attitude, just politely state that for the record the vote was not unanimous.
But this post is more about the direction I’d like to see the County Council take us in.
I get the sense that County Council is afraid to lead. Somehow I believe they feel that the County Executive received some sort of mandate and we shouldn’t cross him. So let’s review the 2010 election – remember, the one where Republicans got a 6-1 Council majority?
The “mandate” for Rick Pollitt was a three-point electoral victory over a candidate who had never previously sought political office and crossed against his party on at least one issue (support for an elected school board.) If people had thought Rick had done such a good job I would have expected no less than a 20-point win.
On the other hand, consider that the 7 Republicans who ran for County Council received just over 48,000 votes. That proved to be almost exactly 65% of the vote. Even if you subtract out the three districts where Republicans were unopposed by a Democratic candidate, the GOP still received 56.5% of the vote. Now THAT is a mandate – so let’s use it.
It’s long past time to use some veto power and start bringing certain people to heel.
I sat and watched last night’s County Council meeting, particularly the period of public comment when a series of soccer moms stood up and whined about how bad the schools have it. Their solution seems to be that the schools need more money, and we just have to somehow come up with another $5 to 7 million or there would be drastic measures like no extracurricular activities.
I have to give Gail Bartkovich credit for reminding those who complained about the dilapidated state of Bennett Middle School that the building was in good shape not that many years ago – seems like the maintenance started going downhill when the school board smelled a pot of money to build a new school with.
But, being a veteran of I don’t know how many school levies the school systems in Ohio had to pass (because their law requires a vote on any property tax appropriation above and beyond a ten mill limit, which means almost anything needs to go to voters now) it seemed like the cuts to extracurricular activities were the favorite scare tactic to coerce parents into voting for schools. Hey, football is king in Ohio, what can we say?
It’s funny that we never hear about having to cut fifteen administrators. It’s always about increasing class sizes or eliminating bus service or library hours. As I recall one lady saying about the conditions at Bennett Middle, there were 900 students and over 100 staff suffering. That’s a staff member for every nine students! If you have a class of 25 students (and I’m conceding a bit since I regularly went to school with 30 kids per class in my day) that’s sure more than just the teacher.
Anyway, I’ve gotten a little bit far afield here. I hope the bulldog attitude Joe Holloway has exhibited in his five years on County Council extends to his presidential term and sets the new tone. As for Matt Holloway, I need to be convinced that he won’t be a soft touch. He was the one I didn’t vote for in the primary so my jury is still out on him. If the County Council wants to meet with these parents and listen to their whining, that’s fine and dandy. Just remind them that higher taxes means a lower standard of living for those of us who don’t depend on the school board’s teat.
When I hear about administration being cut to the bone and overhead slashed to zero, then I might believe the school board’s sob stories.