Jim Lee: Truth elusive in some campaigns

As the primary election draws closer, it is interesting to listen to some of the candidates and their supporters as they try to twist the truth to fit their agenda, but some of the claims being thrown around need a bit of straightening.

The biggest twist of the truth is the assertion that the current board of commissioners and our state lawmakers got us out of paying the rain tax. In truth, the state did mandate that certain jurisdictions enact a new tax to pay for stormwater management projects, and Carroll got exempted from that. But we are still paying the tax. Ask any candidate for office the basic question: Are we or are we not obligated to pay for state-mandated stormwater management projects? The answer, of course, is yes, we are. The money is just coming out of existing taxes rather than the board imposing a new tax.

In short, this is still positive because, as we all know, once lawmakers have a tax on the books it is easy to raise that tax. Just look at Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich's flush tax and how Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley increased that tax. So not having a new tax is a good thing. But exempt from paying for stormwater projects? That is a baldfaced lie.

Another duplicitous argument going around concerns the Common Core education standards. The standards are designed to increase student achievement and increase accountability of schools for educating students. Who in their right mind doesn't think that creating standards and measuring them ultimately leads to improvement, whether in private business or when it comes to spending tax dollars?

Those against Common Core cite the example of teachers who have complained about the standards being rolled out too quickly to support their case that everyone hates Common Core. That's false. Teachers are concerned that they will be measured by student performance, and student performance is dependent upon many external factors, including whether the kids had breakfast in the morning or whether they are in a stable home environment. These are legitimate concerns, and the concerns are why the performance issue is just one part of a multi-pronged approach looking at overall achievement.

Teachers also expressed concerns about the limited time they had to develop curricula at the local level. The rollout could have been done much better; that's something just about everyone agrees on. But opponents show the danger associated with blind denial when they complain that the federal government is dictating curricula and taking away local control, then use teachers who said they needed more time to develop the curricula locally as the basis for their argument.

That makes no sense. Which is true? Is the government taking away local control, or are there complaints about Common Core because local schools didn't have enough time to develop the curriculum?

Beyond that inconsistency, listen to some of the Board of Education candidates and you'll come away with a positively Orwellian feel of students implanted with microchips and hooked up to high speed Internet wires that feed them direct doses of government propaganda.

And if living in a Matrix-like world where we are all controlled by the government doesn't worry you, then perhaps you can be influenced by the notion that major unions are invading Carroll and buying candidates, another contention of some of those running for office.

To them, the terms "union" and "Democrat" are interchangeable, which is interesting since the biggest union in the county is the teachers' union, the school system is one of the top employers in the county and the county is made up politically of a large Republican majority.

I'd bet there are more Republicans in the school system than Democrats, but since they want a fair wage they are labeled by some of the candidates as those nasty union-backing Democrats. And have you looked at the campaign finance reports for the candidates? It's not like anyone is pouring millions of dollars into any campaign.

For years developers have poured tons of money into pro-growth candidates in their attempt to pave over every farm acre in Carroll, but you never heard a peep about that campaign backing.

No, when it comes from a group you support, as a candidate, then you recognize your supporters are only exercising their constitutional rights. It's only when groups organize against you that it is a bad thing.

The primary is fast approaching. Don't listen to the campaign rhetoric. Do the research and go to the polls an informed voter.

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