Concerning the May 10 guest column in the Capital expressing adulation for the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission, I have never been able to figure out the Capital’s conflict of interest disclosure policy. Sometimes it discloses trivial, obvious conflicts. Other times it misses the big conflicts. Perhaps the explanation is that if you’re a big Capital advertiser, you’re exempt from basic conflict of interest disclosure.
Wouldn’t it have been relevant to point out that the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, of which Bob Burdon is President, appoints one of the eleven School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) members? In other words, Burdon’s organization is a direct beneficiary of the new system.
As a bonus, it would also have been relevant to point out that Burdon is a registered lobbyist, and, as such, lives or dies based on the goodwill of the elected leaders who created the SBNC. Lobbyists like Burdon love to have representation on the SBNC because it provides access and goodwill among the movers and shakers that determine their lobbying success.
In regard to the content of Burdon’s argument, who can disagree with the attributes he seeks in a school board member? They are motherhood and apple pie. He devotes the bulk of his commentary to describing those traits. But the question he purports to address in his commentary is whether the SBNC is the best way to select for those traits. Yet he provides no argument in his commentary as to why the SBNC is the best means to select candidates with those universally agreed upon attributes. He simply asserts it and says trust me: “as one of the architects of the legislation that created the commission, I had these criteria in mind that I felt the commission process could evaluate better than the former convention process.”
But why should we? Burdon should have set his task in this commentary to make his argument directly. Instead, he develops a straw man argument and asks us to trust his good faith and judgment as a representative of a major local institution. Although I have been highly critical of the SBNC, it certainly is not without its merits. Burdon would have made a stronger case by presenting them.