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In public, Mayor Sheila Dixon has been very supportive of Dr. Alonso and the work his administration is doing. But now she's appointed a panel to screen school board candidates that includes some of the CEO's most formidable adversaries: Marietta English, Glen Middleton, Jimmy Gittings, Eric White.

Eric White? I was surprised to see his name on the list of panel members, given that his organization, the Baltimore City Council of PTAs, has been put on inactive status by the Maryland PTA as a result of his actions. Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the mayor, said Dixon believes he still has something to offer.

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It appears the mayor is keeping two of Alonso's supporters on the board, Bob Heck and Anirban Basu, since she did not solicit applications for their seats. But yesterday it became official that the board is losing another Alonso supporter and perhaps its most outspoken member: Buzzy Hettleman. He was one of four candidates under consideration for his seat, but he decided to withdraw his application.

Whether the mayor officially gains control of the city school system or Gov. O'Malley allows her to unofficially control the school board appointment process, as she's doing now, Dixon will be in charge once she has a board majority. If this panel is advising her, Alonso may have his hands full.

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