Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Open Meetings Act Do-Over

Poor Dr. Joshua Starr.

As soon as he arrives in Montgomery County, he is faced with a stream of Maryland Open Meetings Act complaints as a result of actions by his predecessor, Dr. Jerry Weast, and the esteemed Montgomery County Board of Education.

Dr. Starr had several choices.  He could reform the Board and ask them to heed the advice of the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.  He could read the law himself, and abide by its requirements.   Or he could continue to insist that MoCo and its Board of Education can't possibly be wrong.

Guess what?  Doesn't matter that Pat O'Neill was on "pins and needles" at the thought of having to testify under oath for the first time during her tenure as a member of the Board of Education in conjunction with another open meetings matter.   Dr. Starr and the MoCo Board of Education insist they are right.

Dr. Starr and MoCo's Board of Education hired the Venable Law firm, one of the country's top 100 law firms, to ask for a "do over" of an earlier decision by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.   No more Reese and Carney.  They are serious, and are willing to fork over major dollars to have a partner who bills at top dollar at the firm draft a request to reconsider the issue.

You can read the request here.


Curious, isn't it? 

Do you think MoCo is pressing this with the Compliance Board because we may be looking for a new superintendent shortly?   Why is the Board of Education so concerned about this decision?

Better question.  How much did Samantha Williams and Venable charge to write this opinion?

I am not sure that I would classify the selection of a School Superintendent as an administrative or routine function, would you?  And even assuming that such business could be conducted in a closed session away from the public eye, is that really necessary?  It's not as if the privacy of any candidates is an issue.

I thought the school system is short on funding.  Apparently not when it comes to paying lawyers to get them out of trouble.

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