Monday, September 21, 2015

See Something . . . Say Something

See something . . . Say Something

I see these words all the time.  They are on metro ads, electronic highway signs, and tv commercials.

See something . . . Say something

I want to be shocked and outraged at the treatment of Ahmed Mohamed.  The 14 year old boy who built a clock, gave it to his teacher and was promptly suspended and arrested.

See something . . . Say something

I desperately want to remove all of the context of this story, the nagging catch phrases and simply consider this the acts of one overly edgy and clearly racist teacher.

See something . . . Say something

The teacher saw a brown kid who (s)he didn’t know well.  The brown kid was named Ahmed Mohamed.  Ahmed Mohamed brought a present for his teacher, a clock he made at home.  Sure if it were a bomb it would have to be made by the acme company for wile e coyote but how many bombs have you seen that didn’t have a clock on them?

See something . . . Say something

I’m not excusing their behavior, really I’m not.  It is reprehensible to punish him and to take it as far as they did when he clearly never said or did anything threatening.  I’d like to think that I would never EVER be that bad BUT . . . haven't we been trained to be afraid of 14 year old boys, especially 14 year old brown boys, especially 14 year old brown boys named Ahmed who brought you a ticking present.

See something . . . Say something

Isn’t that what the teacher did?  She saw something and she said something.  I would never be like that right?  Yet, I remember my first reaction when I saw the representatives of the mosque trying to move into Woodmont Academy.  Their outfits, their beards, their hijabs.  I shuddered at my own reaction even then but my “instinct” was undeniable.  The metro ads and message boards work, and we have all been trained to react in fear.

Could something like this happen in HoCo schools?  Probably.  I doubt it would escalate quite as far but it certainly could happen.  Plus, just to broaden it for a second how many other preconceived assumptions box 14 year old (and 5 year old and 7 year old) boys and girls in?  While they might not be taken away in cuffs aren’t we obligated to fight this inside the school system?  I know it’s a lot to ask of our system but who’s if not HoCos?  What better time than now?  What better place than here?

I see something . . . Now I’ve said something.  When does action happen?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Council has the Trump Card

I’ll be honest; I’m not much of a card player.  I played gin rummy with my family growing up and had some rousing games of Uno in my day.  I wasted some time in college playing hearts or spades but like I said, I’m not really much of a card player. 

Anyway, I want to talk about a trump card for reasons I will explain in a minute.  I thought I knew what a trump card was.  I assumed it was a card you inherited from a previous hand but had to pretend you earned during the hand being played.  I thought it was trimmed in a tacky gold leaf and continually tried to reject any cards that came into your hand during play.  Turns out I was off on that.  Here it is straight from Wikipedia “(in bridge, whist, and similar card games) a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led.”

If you read the August 20th Flier, or caught the article here, you not only got a chance to see my name in print, but learned that the nominations issue continues to loom large.  My coverage was on the Hartman nomination to Local Children’s Board and I was happy to see the abhorrent nature of Crisis Pregnancy Center’s in print.  That is not what I am writing about today.

I advocated earlier that the Council should table all board and commission nominations until County Executive Kittleman agrees to work WITH them in a bipartisan manner for the nomination process.  That suggestion wasn’t taken and it seems to me much to the detriment of the whole process on both sides.  Now we will continue to have partisan gamesmanship.  It would appear, in HoCo’s case, it will be under the surreal veil of not playing politics with political appointments.

There is good news though; I can tie my two non-sequiturs together.  As I see it there are three currently serving board members who the administration has proposed replacing:

Regina Stone-Mitchell, Housing Commission
Josh Tzuker, Planning Board
Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot, Human Rights Commission

While each of these has had different paths to this point in all three cases the Council holds the trump card.  They can guarantee any or all three of the above continue to serve without any horse-trading with the Executive.  It’s actually very simple.  All they need to do is declare that the only nominations that will receive three votes are Ms. Stone-Mitchell for the Housing Commission, Mr. Tzuker for the Planning Board, and Ms. Walker-Lightfoot for the Human Rights Commission.  Any nominee that is NOT one of these three will get rejected. 

As I understand the law and process, if this generates a stalemate then the above three simply continue to serve.  Just to be clear, let me pull the language from, as an example, CR18-2010 “A RESOLUTION confirming the appointment of Genevievette E. Walker-Lightfoot to the Human Rights Commission.”  The final sentence reads “…the following person is appointed as a member of the Human Rights Commission to serve from the passage of this Resolution to March 1, 2015 or until a successor is appointed and confirmed:” (emphasis added)

The case for allowing dedicated volunteers to continue serving has been made, admirably in many locations.  The case for a truly cooperative bipartisan process for appointments to boards and commissions was made and apparently rejected.  By my book that leaves two options for the Council.  They can play this trump card or fold the better hand[1].

[1] I’m pretty sure now I’m mixing card games but the metaphor is too pretty here even if mixed.