Two articles in tomorrow's Howard Sun section deserve comment:
Page 3U of tomorrow's Howard Sun, "Projections Forecast School Crowding": County Council Chair (and former School Board Chair) Courtney Watson says, with regard to finding more school construction funding to build and/or renovate schools in the northeastern part of the county, "If we have a revenue source to fund schools...." then the quote is cut off.
Fact is, there are plenty of current revenue sources that fund schools already. From the only partial quote I can assume that she is referring to a NEW revenue source to fund schools. And the only such revenue source I have heard discussed lately has been to give the School Board taxing authority.
And this is an insanely bad idea.
People in Howard County, as in most places, are sensitive to the argument of "we'll do anything for the kids. As long as it helps the kids." Locally, we have two Council members who are former school board members, and the other three are all parents of young children. And the County seems to be in the midst of reallocating it's budget priorities. So if ever an environment were conducive to giving the School Board taxing authorty, that time is here.
But if that is done, then the last check to the School Board's spending is removed. And the shift of power in the County between it's two elected bodies will be palpable. Education is over 60% of the County budget; from a fiscal perspective, the School Board would become more influential, more powerful, than the County Council. And that's not how things should work.
Love or hate the County Council, it is our local legislature and it need not be emasculated. Any talk of allowing the School Board taxing authority should be shelved.
The second item worth comment comes in Larry Carson's "Political Notebook" on Page 10U. Senator Allan Kittleman is decrying the MTA shuttles to Orioles games.
OK, Allan, cut it out. The "yellow pages" theory of economic conservatism (which said that any service that could be found in the yellow pages shouldn't be performed by government) left the country about 15 years ago.
In fact, his own argument that private bus companies should provide the service is undercut later in the article, as Mike Eyre, president of Eyre Bus Service, notes that he wouldn't perform such service unless if he had a contract with the state to do so! Gee, wonder what that may be? Couldn't be because government is very generous to contractors, could it be?
Sounds to me like business is looking to government to subsidize it's provision of service. And sounds to me like Allan is appealing to his base, most of which wouldn't be caught dead on public transit anyway.
More Fishwrap Report tomorrow!