Definitely enough for three blog posts today-- maybe more-- but instead, taking them all at once!
Last week, the Maryland Board of Public Works, consisting of the Governor, Comptroller and Treasurer, held their annual "begathon" in Annapolis. One of the highlights of this event is that local departments of education come to the board and ask for their state construction funds for their systems. And last year, HCPSS Superintendent Renee Foose was sternly and appropriately admonished by the Governor for her mishandling of the mold issues at Glenwood MS and for the distrust within the county of the HCPSS.
This year was another bad turn at the podium for the HCPSS Superintendent, as calls for her resignation, of not her termination by the State Superintendent of Education, grow. Comptroller Peter Franchot led off the Board's criticisms of the Superintendent's poor performance in general, and especially, her terrible presentation before the Board of Public Works. Inexcusable since she brought at least a half dozen staffers there with her. I guess they can still afford reimbursement for local travel.
Franchot's withering questioning and commentary made Foose wobble and cover up against the ropes. Then, the Comptroller tagged in Governor Hogan, who delivered the devastating finishing maneuver of reminding the hapless Superintendent. Hogan made sure to mention in no uncertain terms that the citizens of Howard County sent a clear message last year by sending three new members to the Board of Educations, while sending three incumbents packing. And he drew the connection between this turnover via democracy and Foose's own actions and performance.
In related news regarding Comptroller Franchot, the Comptroller came out this past week in favor of local Howard County bill CB9, which is otherwise known as the "sanctuary county" bill. The vote on this bill is coming up quickly on February 6, and the organization PATH (People Acting Together in Howard) is having a pro- CB9 event today at 4:30pm at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.
So, anyone else remember that moment at December's OneHoward forum where the County Executive was asked about how the County would respond to anti-immigration policies enacted by the incoming Trump Administration? And remember the County Executive's answer, that it was premature to answer that question because "we don't even know if the federal government will take any action"? Well, it did this past week with the Executive Orders threatening to remove funding from sanctuary jurisdictions, and to restrict the influx of persons from certain countries with sizable Muslim populations.
The County Executive's official response to either? Still waiting. And, still waiting to learn more as to where County Councilmembers Mary Kay Sigaty, and Council Chair Jon Weinstein, come down on this legislation.
Their silence is beginning to become more curious, because after about 10 hours of in-person testimony, a very long (and vociferous) work session, and lots of emails, phone calls, and I'm sure, research, I'm sure they have opinions and leanings by now. I have to say that I find it interesting that there haven't been any proposed amendments to this bill. Nor has there been any alternative proposed. Therefore, it looks like we're driving the CB9 bus all the way to an up or down vote on the bill, as written, on the 6th. And a very possible, if not likely, outcome, is a 3-2, non-veto proof passage of the bill. Which then begs the question of if the override can gain the fourth positive vote?
The county has been very loud and passionate both ways on this legislation, and we clearly know where three Councilmembers stand. And where the Executive stands, though he has yet to answer the above question posed to him at OneHoward. We are now in the final week of this extremely important community discussion. This is the time that calls for leadership and I'm looking forward to seeing how Councilmembers Sigaty and Weinstein step up and lend their voices to this effort, either way.
My third item today, but also important. This past week Governor Hogan unveiled his 2017 heroin and opioid prevention, treatment, and enforcement initiative. Reading through this press release, it would seem like a definite good start.
I was struck by President Trump's inaugural address-- in many ways, but one being his use of the term "forgotten Americans". Although not the usage I think he intended, I believe this term applies to those who suffer from substance abuse issues-- addiction and supporting those who suffer from addiction through recovery. Or, watching them reach the bottom of their substance use experience and come to the realization that their life was out of control. If they ever do that.
Dealing with addiction-- for all involved-- is a private matter and is an extremely difficult thing. It would be helpful if the state didn't provide opportunities for addicts to slip back into their active addiction. The initiatives that the Governor has proposed seem to restrict those opportunities. I am especially pleased by the limits being imposed upon health providers to prescribe opioids.
Of course, there is still a very long way to go to bring addiction issues out of shadows. Substance use is an intensely personal, private matter and I'm not sure it's ever going to be a disease condition that will be recognized as being like any other chronic disease condition-- say, diabetes. And, simultaneously related, and not related, to substance abuse issues, mental health issues still have a way to go to have the stigma around those removed. But failure to acknowledge the issue as a serious one is the worst thing any organization can do, so I will acknowledge and accept the Governor's initiatives as steps in the right direction.
There you go-- lots to chew over this Sunday morning. Better editorials than you'll see in the Sun, I can guarantee that! Incidentally, the Sun seems to have cancelled my subscription. Right after my post a few weeks ago about the anonymous commenters. Still, I find the strength to go on.
Have a great Sunday and start to your week! Let's be careful out there.