A few years ago County Executive John Leopold was forced from office in part for using government resources for political purposes. Those of you on the Council at that time endorsed the principle that government resources should not be used for political purposes.
Senior AACPS staff have also used government resources for political purposes–and in a way far more harmful to our democracy.
I am submitting for the record three op-eds I published on that subject: one each in the Washington Post, Capital, and eLighthouse.info.
Let me be clear about the nature of the analogy I am making. I didn’t believe what John Leopold did was illegal—and published two op-eds in the Baltimore Sun explaining my reasoning. I also don’t believe that anything AACPS staff have done is illegal. But use of government resources that isn’t illegal may nevertheless be unethical and thus hidden from the public.
My question to you is: assuming that senior AACPS staff are improperly using government resources for political purposes in a way that isn’t illegal but would be widely perceived as improper if publicly exposed, who would have an incentive to investigate and punish such behavior?
Certainly not the Board of Education, whose members believe it is improper to micromanage senior AACPS staff, which includes conducting meaningful public oversight.
Certainly not the AACPS Ethics Panel, which lacks the independence and power to provide effective ethical oversight of high level AACPS public officials.
Certainly not the State’s attorney or State Prosecutor, as AACPS staffers have, in my judgment, done nothing illegal.
So I ask you: do you have an incentive to prevent senior AACPS staff from misusing government resources for political purposes? And if not you, then who? As a starting point, I’d suggest you investigate the AACPS political operation run by Assistant Superintendent Sally Pelham.
In conclusion, a week ago today I published an op-ed in the Capital arguing that the incentives here to turn a blind eye are similar to the ones described in the documentary Spotlight, which won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture. It describes the blind eye the church, politicians, and press turned to a widespread pattern of child molestation by priests. If you disagree with the analysis I’ve presented, I’d welcome your speaking up now.