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February 10, 2014

A Display of Disrespect

Cindy A. Rose

If you want to know what dysfunctional, elitist-minded government looks and feels like, you don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., head on over to Annapolis and pop in to one of the committee hearings.


I, along with a sizeable showing of concerned parents, braved the ice storm of February 4-5 to give testimony on behalf of Del. Michael Smigiel’s (R., Eastern Shore) Common Core Repeal Bill – HB76.


I didn’t expect to be treated like royalty; however, I didn’t expect I would be treated and made to feel like an “annoyance” from an enemy camp.


The fog of aloofness filled that chamber. Much of the fog rolled in when Committee Chairman Sheila Hixson (D., Montgomery) started giving Delegate Smigiel a hard time about his witness list. She set the hostile tone; and it was hostile. You can feel “partisanship” in the air, constituents be damned.


I don’t know Delegate Smigiel, so I don’t know his good days from his bad days, his politeness level, his tone, etc. That said, I felt he was frustrated with a new computerized system that left specific speakers off a witness list since he listed them as a “panel.” His level of passion was, in my opinion, completely in line with what was happening. He feared his constituents, who had braved bad weather and spent hours in his office, were about to be prevented from speaking. Happily, that did not occur.


The fog got thicker when Del. Carolyn Howard (D., Prince George’s) chastised Delegate Smigiel because she felt he was being disrespectful.  So offended was she that she walked out of the hearing.


For Delegate Howard to lecture him on “respect,” while, not 15 feet from her, was Del. Melvin Stukes (D., Baltimore City) in a state bordering on comatose. It was the height of hypocrisy. He was fast asleep, rubbing his face and sleeping so soundly when his elbow slipped off the table at one point, he nearly fell out of his chair. I’m told there was another female delegate to his left who was also napping, but I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting.


Yes, these delegates get testimony prior to the hearings; but that is no excuse for the display of utter contempt for not only the process, but the people who are beholden to the process if they want to effect change in their state.


Is it arrogance that facilitates these feelings of comfortability to sleep in front of the people who have the power to vote them out of office? If your boss walked into your office or cubicle at work would you feel so confident in your job security that slumbering at your desk would cause you no fear, shame – nor guilt?


To add insult to injury, Frederick County’s one and only representative on the Ways and Means Committee: Del. Kathy Afzali (R.) said: “My own school board is now saying it’s really too late to turn back; they’ve already got the wheels in motion…. I have concerns with this bill (HB76).” Apparently she’s never heard the axiom “when you find yourself in a hole and the walls start caving in; stop digging.” It’s never too late to stop doing something dangerous, harmful or foolish. Pride and arrogance should never stop someone from turning a doomed ship around, especially when that ship is loaded with hundreds of thousands of children.


Delegate Afzali also voted for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tax increasing budget. I don’t know what she’s thinking, but she isn’t thinking about what is best for Frederick County students, parents and teachers.


In 2014 and 2016 voters need to take a long hard look at the type of candidates they vote for. Do we continue down the road of politically entrenched candidates? Maybe now is a good time to go back to the kind of representation our Founders intended: Citizen Legislators.



A link to the complete hearing is below. Delegate Afzali is at 30:40. (Several education Bills are here as well. However HB76 is at the beginning after a very brief Bill):


Photographic evidence of the slumbering delegate can be found on the Facebook Page/Stop Common Core in Maryland.


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