Rushern Baker's school takeover. Does the GOP support it, or just not care about anything Prince George's?
Prince George's County Executive Democrat Rushern Baker has proposed a coup d'etat in which he will take control of the Prince George's County school budget and superintendent and keep an expanded but emasculated board of education responsible for some things, but without any authority to accomplish those responsibilities.
Baker's corrected press release.
PG-Politics summary of news about Baker's plan.
Baker was elected to the county executive position without Republican opposition--the party failed to field a single candidate for any of the top jobs in Prince George's County
The last time Democrat Baker interfered in school governance in Prince George's County, the non-partisan elected school board was replaced with an all Democrat politically appointed patronage body. That Baker-created board hired, strongly supported, and gave a six-figure going away present to a superintendent with a dubious background who left to go to federal prison for felonies committed on the job in Prince George's County.
After that debacle, the General Assembly restored an elected non-partisan school board. Now Baker wants to interfere again. Baker claims that letting him appoint a superintendent will increase accountabilty. The is the same Baker who made repeated campaign promises to hire an Inspector General to deal with corruption in the county, but has broken that and other ethics promises. And he is the same Baker who campaigned saying he would never allow casino gambling in Prince George's County--before he fought so hard for a casino.
Baker and his supporters in the mainstream media claim that his proposal is all about improving accountability and educational results. In my opinion, it will fracture accountability, leaving nobody to blame if the schools get worse, and is really an effort to increase Baker's political power and patronage opportunities.
On Monday, I wrote to several people in the leadership of the state and county Republican committees, asked if the party has a position on Baker's plan, and offered to disseminate that position on my PG-Politics blog and mailing list.
This tends to confirm, once again, that as far as the Republican Party is concerned, Prince George's County is not part of Maryland. I don't understand how party leaders think, but in my opinion, the GOP will never again become a significant force in Maryland politics as long as it completely writes off one of the largest and growing jurisdictions in the state.
And, it is probably just wishful thinking, but I certainly hope the Republican members of the General Assembly will oppose Baker's power play. Last time around, every Republican except one senator, invoked "legislative courtesy" as a lame excuse for Baker's anti-democratic attack on the rights of voters. Please don't don't do that again.