Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 20, 2013

Might our county sue itself?

The ongoing war between the Allegany County Commissioners and the Allegany County Board of Education has been counterproductive to say the least.

It’s evident that both sides have had major disagreements in regards to the administration of the public school system from the time both boards were installed into office.

The most recent disagreements regarding school security and the county ex-officio member to the board of education has only augmented the disconnect between the two boards.

The recent position the county has taken in threatening a lawsuit against the board of education over the privileges of the ex-officio member is an example of a lack of significant focus on part of the commissioners.

At a time when economic development should be a main priority of county government, the county is actually considering suing itself.

I cannot think of a poorer example of the use of public tax dollars than to file a lawsuit against an agency that you fund.

Instead of allocating county funds to file a costly lawsuit, that money could be invested in our community in a productive way such as upgrades to roads, infrastructure and broadband expansion to attract new business.

In the same breath, the board of education will have to expend funds to defend itself against such a lawsuit, resulting in tax dollars that could have been used to benefit the school system and students.

This is all somewhat baffling since within the last year the county was requesting removal of the ex-officio position because they cited a lack of time to attend such meetings.

Now they are considering a lawsuit to attend such meetings which typically can run for hours at a time and would require even more of their time.

I would suggest that the county commissioners focus more on what citizens are truly concerned with, rather than fighting with the board of education over every aspect of the governance of the school system.

For example, citizens along George’s Creek are still trying to find ways to pay for the costly sewage upgrades that have significantly raised their yearly taxes.

The county would benefit greatly by investigating ways to refinance that debt, or secure other funding sources to help lower these costs, rather than spending time fighting with the school system over executive session privilege.

The intent of most ex-officio membership positions is to serve in an “advisory capacity” to a board of directors.

Ex-officio members are typically not intended to have the same privileges as elected members to a board of directors. If that were the case, then what would be the intent of having an “ex-officio member” at all?

If an ex-officio member does in fact have the exact same privileges and voting rights of an elected member, it would negate the purpose of an advisory position all together.

Most believe that it is beneficial to have the county seated at the table with the board of education in an advisory capacity since they are a major funding partner and collaboration between to the two can be productive when projects or issues involve both entities.

I believe that both sides should sit down and come to a reasonable agreement without the need for a costly lawsuit.

At the end of the day, there is no last word in diplomacy. The county and the board should both focus on their respective priorities and move forward.

Tom Striplin

Mount Savage

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • President and Obamacare: Who needs Congress?

    Being a fellow from a small town like Cumberland I don’t always really understand what’s going on in Washington. But I have watched a few houses being built over the years. I even helped some with one house, but my brother fired me from that work pretty quickly, mainly because it was his house being built.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sweet Success Business Forum this evening in Frostburg

    As a member of the Frostburg Business and Professional Association (FBPA), I am pleased to inform the community of the “Sweet Success” event sponsored by the city of Frostburg and our organization.

    April 22, 2014

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • You can help United Way reach its goal

    The United Way of Allegany County campaign for 2013-14 will end April 30 and to date has raised more than $430,000, which is over 86 percent of its goal. But there is still $70,000 to be raised in a very short time.

    April 21, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo