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Letters: Howard school board needs to be held accountable; and more from readers

School board needs to be held accountable

On Feb. 14, the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board handed down a decision finding that the Howard County Board of Education violated the Open Meetings Act during its Nov. 21 meeting when it improperly recessed and entered into a closed session. During the closed session, a quorum was present and there was discussion regarding a failed vote and how it would affect the entire redistricting plan.

At the school board’s Feb. 27 meeting, they read a statement into the record announcing the compliance board’s opinion and then voted on meeting minutes for the closed meeting. No penalties, no apologies, nothing.

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The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board can only issue advisory opinions and does not have the authority to issue orders or impose penalties. The school board has experienced no repercussions for its behavior and must be held accountable. Voting on meeting minutes for an illegally held closed meeting from three months ago does not restore public trust in the process.

The only way to actually hold the school board accountable is if one of the Circuit Court cases is successful. Multiple families are fighting to hold the school board accountable and protect our rights as citizens to a transparent and fair process. Please support these families as they seek justice for all Howard County residents.

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Susan Levine

Columbia

Let county’s housing task force do its job

My official personal position as co-chair of Howard County’s Housing Opportunities Master Plan Task Force is to support withdrawing CB13-2020, the Affordable Housing Retention Act, and let the task force create the master plan.

County Executive Calvin Ball created the Housing Opportunities Master Plan Task Force. The County Council approved the budget with $400,000 for the task force consultant.

Goals of the master plan include:

  • Inclusiveness, equity, openness, transparency and accountability;
  • Assessment of housing programs/policies in all departments/agencies of Howard County government to improve efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Providing metrics and timelines to measure progress toward achieving goals; and
  • Identifying ways to create and preserve housing opportunities for residents of all incomes.

The task force held its first work session in early February, and plans call for completion of the master plan final report to the county in early December 2020.

The task force of about 30 members, who have expertise in a broad spectrum of backgrounds, will spend this year analyzing and studying current policies and practices and recommending changes to better position the county to offer housing opportunities for all incomes throughout the county.

Let the task force do its job and withdraw CB13-2020.

Bill McCormack Jr.

Columbia

Oakland Mills request was tabled by Columbia Association

A letter in last week’s issue (“Don’t fund additional budget request from Oakland Mills Village Board,” March 5) mentioned a request the Oakland Mills Community Association made to the Columbia Association. The letter writer asked CA to deny this request, which sought to facilitate a community discussion on how to enhance community areas in the neighborhoods of Talbott Springs and Stevens Forest.

At CA’s board of directors meeting on Feb. 27, the board voted to table the motion. CA’s board will first complete its work relating to examining Columbia’s neighborhood centers and then, afterward, will discuss the community areas in these two Oakland Mills neighborhoods.

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I also want to clarify the request from the Oakland Mills Community Association did not seek funding in CA’s budgets for fiscal years 2021 or 2022, and there never was funding in either fiscal year for such an initiative.

Milton W. Matthews

Columbia

The writer is the president and CEO of the Columbia Association.

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