Cumberland Times-News


July 22, 2013

School board should honor the law

On Sunday, July 21, I read with interest the commentary by Tom Striplin dealing with the issue of the (Allegany County) Board of Education’s denial of the right of the ex officio member to attend all meetings of the Board of Education.

Mr. Striplin has an interest in this matter, since the BOE followed what the office of the attorney general has found to be improper, while Mr. Striplin was a BOE member and also the president of the BOE. Mr. Striplin also, during his tenure, supported the BOE’s policy of not addressing questions from the public at public meetings.

As an announced candidate for the office of county commissioner, Mr. Striplin must realize, that if elected, he will have a sworn duty to represent all citizens of Allegany County.

Representing our citizens, means honoring the right of our citizens to know what their elected officials are doing,what decisions are being made, and how those decisions are made. Transparency is too often a pledge, that is never honored, by those seeking a public office. Allegany County was recently found to be in the top 1 percent in the nation for transparency — that was not accomplished by the denial of rights to our citizens.

The state considers the Board of Education to be five elected members, an ex officio member (either the president of the board of commissioners, or another commissioner appointed by the president), and a student representative. Only the elected members have a vote, but the student representative and the ex officio are to have all other rights of the board on which they serve.

The student representative is not allowed to attend executive sessions. The office of the attorney general, however, has made it extremely clear that the ex officio has not only the right to attend all meetings, including executive session, but also a “duty, to attend all such meetings.”

Approximately two months ago, I asked Dr. (Edward) Root and BOE attorney, Gary Hanna, to meet with myself and county attorney Bill Rudd on this matter. We had a very cordial, business-like meeting. Evidently, Dr. Root and Mr Hanna agreed with the county’s position, since the next packet that I received for a BOE meeting, included new policy language that would have been quite acceptable to the county. The present policy allows the ex officio to attend executive session, only by invitation.

No such invitation has been received by the county in 2 1/2 years. The BOE, however, did not approve of the new language, allowing it to die from the lack of a motion. No motion, no vote on record. The county has once again asked the BOE to reconsider (the A.G. opinion was part of that communication). We are also asking for the minutes of all executive session meetings since Jan.1, 2011, so the ex officio will have the information that we feel has been improperly denied. If a court decision is needed, then so be it.

It is sad, that the BOE, and Mr. Striplin, appear to believe that the BOE can choose which laws they will, or will not, honor. I hope this is not the message that is being given to the students in our schools. Our country is a land of laws, and a process to change laws we find are not desirable.

If people are left to choose which laws they will follow, we will have anarchy. Hopefully the Board of Education will read the A.G’s opinion, read the laws, and honor the law by granting full board rights (minus voting rights) to the ex officio.

Allegany County

Commissioner Bill Valentine


Text Only
  • Preposterous Preposterous

    File this one under the We Thought We’d Heard Everything category: A man who attempted the armed robbery of a pizza shop is now suing the pizzeria and the employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the holdup.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Legion honor guard available to honor veterans at their funerals

    We in the honor guard of Fort Cumberland Post 13, American Legion, performed 196 veterans service in 2013.

    July 22, 2014

  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Remember, we’re not immune to extinction

    I’d like to pose a theoretical scenario to Cal Thomas.

    If a medical specialist said, “Cal, you’ve got a serious physical problem. Do nothing and you’ll die soon. Follow my prescription, which involves certain life-style changes, and there’s a good probability you’ll live, even if your life may be a bit more constrained than now.”

    July 21, 2014

  • America has three branches of government for good reasons

    “Mikulski Calls for Continued Action to Protect Women's Health Following Dangerous Supreme Court Decision” is the heading you will find on Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s website.

    July 21, 2014

  • Tell legislators to do what is right for America’s vets

    Without our veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, where would America be today? It is anyone’s guess, however certainly not the Freedom and Liberty we enjoy.

    July 18, 2014

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Move over Move over

    Have you noticed, in your travels, that the front end of a police cruiser usually protrudes a bit more than you would expect when the officer has it parked behind another vehicle on the side of the road?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Use local workers in building new Baltimore Pike travel stop

    As a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly representing Allegany County, and specifically the City of Cumberland, I welcome you to our community as you prepare to construct a Love’s Travel Stop at the above referenced location (on Baltimore Pike).

    July 17, 2014

  • Northern Garrett Rescue Squad raising funds, seeks members

    The Northern Garrett County Rescue Squad recently conducted several fund raising events to raise funds for new Lifepak 15’s, which are EKG monitors with AED / defibrillator.

    July 16, 2014