Capital News Article

Huang, Cindy, Hogan picks Eric Grannon to serve on school board, Capital, March 29, 2016.

Snider Comment

This is by far the fastest gubernatorial appointment since the SBNC started nominating candidates in 2008. Until this year, I don’t think any such appointment was made in less than a month after the Nominating Commission made its nominations.

All the evidence points to a conclusion that the due diligence on candidates was done prior to the public hearings and that the public hearings were therefore mostly pro forma. I don’t believe that’s unusual. In the past, I’ve usually been able to pick the winners even before the public hearings began. But what was strikingly unusual here is the evident coordination between the SBNC leadership and the Governor’s office prior to the nominations. Without such coordination, it wouldn’t have been possible to get such a quick gubernatorial decision.

Is all this pre-nomination due diligence bad? Not necessarily. It may make a mockery of the public hearings, but they were always largely a mockery anyway. Do you think any responsible public official would hire someone to manage a $1 billion school system with 10,000 staff based on thirty minutes of canned and often misleading answers to commissioners’ predictable questions seeking predictable answers? What is evident is that, for good or for bad, someone on the SBNC was actually doing their due diligence during this round (something that inexplicably didn’t happen during the last round).

I imagine that the rush was designed to head off the General Assembly’s legislation to do away with the Governor and County Executive’s control over the Nominating Commission. I’ll be watching eagerly to see how the General Assembly responds.

Capital News Article

Huang, Cindy, Commission recommends school board candidates to governor, Capital, March 28, 2016.

Snider Comment

“The commission selected Allison Pickard, the current school board member who is seeking reappointment; Kerry Petz, who works for a local education nonprofit; Eric Grannon, an attorney; Mariko Bennett, who works for a health care company; and Dawn Myers, an administrator at the University of Maryland.”

This is not quite right. According to an opinion issued by the Office of Maryland’s Attorney General, incumbent members of the Board of Education are automatically renominated for a second term (see So Allison Pickard would have been renominated regardless of how the SBNC voted tonight.

One reason incumbents participate in the nomination process is that they have a special advantage in winning School Board Nominating Commission votes other than what we would normally expect for an incumbent. That’s because it’s generally not politically astute to spit in the eye of someone with power (e.g., the current incumbent will be in office for a minimum of another three months and possibly another 63 months), when it’s not going to affect whether or not that person is renominated. All the Nominating Commission’s stakeholders and at least several of its political appointees have things to gain from being on good terms with the incumbent, which is a valuable electoral asset for winning extra votes.

In short, the nature of the vote totals for incumbents and challengers tends to be qualitatively different under the quirky and non-intuitive Nominating Commission system where incumbents can bypass the Commission but choose not to do so.