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As Long as We Remember...

July 30, 2012

Political Gamesmanship in Non-Partisan Race

Jill King

The media is profiting from political indifference, even egging it on.  Rebuttal to a recent Board of Education candidate’s Letter to the Editor, by an opposing candidate, failed to make it into print in The Frederick News Post.


Several recent articles about our local "non-partisan" Frederick County school board race have inspired this column; unfortunately, what the News-Post has done is providing teachers union-backed candidates undeserved sympathy.


The Maryland Education Fund for Children political action committee reported over $700,000 in its account in January, according to required financial statements. It could be assumed that this statewide committee, created by the teachers unions, has $1 million for this race.


During the primaries, only one “Apple” candidate could not cut the mustard; she has been replaced. None of the more than $25,000 spent by the teachers’ political action committee in the primary was provided to candidate Tom, but his vote totals drew attention.


His push comes from retired insiders, including an ex-superintendent of schools Linda (it's for the Administration) Burgee, and an ex-director of finance Hal (let the children walk further) Keller, who is also his treasurer.  Meanwhile, the administrative staff has paid parking in a deck.


Mr. Shade’s recent quarter-page Letter to the Editor supporting the teachings of social and economic justice to third graders, pandered to get more endorsements. When asked to provide civil discourse on Frederick’s Forum on WFMD930AM, he opted out of the discussion on the textbook issue.


The Frederick News Post refused to post the rebuttal sent to them by Colleen Cusimano, two days after it was printed.


An upcoming carnival in Walkersville prompted a teachers’ union member/Democrat secretary, to reach out to him to place literature on their table, doing so through social media networks.


Mr. Shade’s wife was great for conversation and passing time in the primaries; she really had my attention. But the backing and supporters have now clouded his focus.


Initially the use of Board of Education candidates on the Frederick County Republican Central Committee slate turned me off; a change of heart was in order. The conservatives in the Frederick area have for years saved face, typically remaining party neutral in non-partisan races.


At the Walkersville Carnival, it was obvious that the race was going to be partisan; tactics would be used to discredit the non-apple/non-Democrat candidates. A quick visit to the Democrat tent, allowed for an earful of jabs aimed at the Republican tent.


A Republican Central Committee slate, providing Colleen Cusimano and Tony Chmelik support, infuriated the donkey tent and several Board of Education candidates. None of them could believe that the once straight-laced committee would dare use opposition techniques of battle from the trenches.


The Democrat tent proudly displayed literature for all Democrat candidates on their table, even rotating shifts, with at least one known Board of Education candidate working the tent. When the candidate approached the Republican tent to seek the placement of literature the request was denied; it was obvious that the lone Democrat female was looking to do Democratic Party bidding.


Predicting where this was going, evidence was gathered and documented. Even though nothing was reported immediately by the press, gut feelings told me to be proactive.


The Gazette soon presented an article about the Republican Central Committee recommended list and how they would not allow other candidate information to be presented .


The argument: Did the Republican candidates ask to put their material on the Democrat table? One such candidate did and was verbally assaulted by two of the males working the table at another carnival.


The so-called wounded "non-partisan" candidate Joy Schaefer, appeared to come out smelling like a rose. Here again, she may have entered the race with the best intentions, but was overcome by the support of the "Apple" providers and now the Democrats; apparently she is now willing to stoop to their lows, to promote her message.


Zakir Bengali, from whom we rarely hear a peep, is also “Apple” endorsed by the Frederick County Teachers Association. A PhD apparently didn't provide enough education to fill out the proper authority line on his business card advertisement, Facebook page, nor his website. How in the world could we vote for a man that won't play by the rule of law when it comes to his advertising? Yes, he is his own treasurer, but that needs to be documented.


Incumbent Katie Groth, another union-endorsed candidate and registered Republican, but not a fiscal conservative, has remained quiet. Apparently she is dependent on her circle of friends and her already incumbent seat, to do her bidding; her past votes for budget issues and school choice should remain under scrutiny.


In looking at the evidence, the teachers union and the Democratic Central Committee, obviously in cahoots, have attempted to stack the deck.


In years past there was little interest in the school board races from fiscal conservatives; new items were bought when desired, even when such a purchase was not affordable. The debt service is out of control.


There is a new Central Office building, with two old ones sitting empty and for sale; the payments are now due. Unfunded liabilities remain excessive, with the majority of the board voting not to allocate any more to it.


Older schools are crumbling, while atriums in new ones are as big as a city duplex; complaints of overcrowding and the addition of portables at these “new schools” have been frequent.


Supplies for teachers to aid in instruction were cut off in the 2011-2012 school year; transportation was cut. Those who chose to “work to rule” were rewarded with a raise, and a Charter School application was denied, supposedly due to budget concerns.


An unprecedented fiasco appeared when the school board was choosing a new president.


This is not politics people; this is a school system mandated to teach our children. When it becomes more about the adults and winning, the children lose.


The only candidates who have remained consistent in their message are Tony Chmelik and Colleen Cusimano.


A new political action group, A Better Choice PAC is now forming. This time we need to make it actually about the children, not just use our most precious asset as a slogan.


Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with my past...


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