These are photos (above) I put on social media on July 17th. The point of this was to show how local county Board of Education members are interacting with the public.

Howard County has the HIGHEST vaccination rates in the state of Maryland and some of the lowest COVID-19 rates and yet there are Board members that seem to have no interest in returning to public service (at least not in person with the public).

Information reported on July 11th by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball

The most telling point for residents is to watch the discussion from HoCoBOE members on July 15th regarding “Annual Review of BOE Protocols for Remote Participation (BOE) – ACTION” (1:27:20 mark of the meeting:  https://hcpsstv.new.swagit.com/videos/129120)

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Elected officials that just recently asked for your support, your money and made a number of promises that now seem to have a significant interest in serving the public from home via Zoom and not in person as was the job they chose to run for not long ago.

Another telling point was this…the new Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Peter Banyas was sworn in on July 15th. It was nice to see a majority of Board members in attendance. To me it was telling on a number of fronts about the members not there in person.

I understood everything that happened during the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic. No question this pandemic is not over yet. But the question is how long do elected officials in Howard County get to stay home and serve the public (not just the BOE…but also the County Council) while many if not most of us are retuning to offices? How long do we wait to see them in person again? How long before they begin to return things to normal operations…the jobs they chose to run for in order to serve in the county?

In other jurisdictions elected officials are returning to serve their residents in person (see the photos above or this video of the Carroll County Board of Education meeting on July 14th). Is it not time for elected officials in Howard County to do the same?

I get that some will agree with me…and others will not (I saw that on social media yesterday)...if you have thoughts or comments…feel free to weigh in here on the blog or on social media.

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Scott E

19 COMMENTS

  1. Just my 2cents, but as long as there is a decent sized unvaccinated population, remote working and social distancing procedures are still the most effective way to safeguard our community against the delta variant.

    • While I understand this statement…I wonder…what number of people vaccinated is high enough in your opinion? As noted in the article…83.6% of residents over the age of 12 have received at least 1 shot of COVID-19 vaccine. 78.4% of residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated. We will never get to 100%…so what is the number that is safe for people / elected officials to be back?

      • It will never be enough. Both “sides” (and the fact there are sides is ridiculous) have backed themselves so far into a corner that they don’t want the other side to “win.” The right wants more deaths to prove vaccines don’t work. The left looks to more deaths so we can keep wearing masks because of the delta variant. We could get to 99.9% vaccination, but the moment the three board members step foot into the BoE boardroom, HoCoNu Facebook will like up with “victory!” and HoCo School Interest will yell “traitors!” Because that is HoCo today.

        Why? Because we didn’t follow the science when the CDC said it was fine to go in. That is why we have the CDC, as imperfect as it is, to be above politics and decide–through science–when changes can be made. Who among us is an epidemiologist to actually understand COVID? Me? Dr. Martirano? Ms. Mallo? Dr. Wu? No.

    • If you are vaccinated, and if indoors wear mask, yolu are trashing Holy Science if you huddle home. If you have a job outside your house, get a shot and go to work. Society First. Enough of fragility and catering to weak individuals. Believe in Evolution?

  2. It is my perspective that when a person chooses to serve the county, one of their duties is to interact with their constituents to the best of their ability. How they choose to interact is irrelevant as long as they are available to converse on a regular basis. If an elected official doesn’t stand up to that scrutiny, then they should be voted out.

    Many businesses are integrating hybrid meetings (in person/on “Zoom”) into their way to doing business – different options to accomplish the same thing is a good thing and is considered progress. This article came off salacious at best and back-woods thinking at worst. This is not an “information for your review” this is one man’s opinion and should have been presented as such.

  3. The primary function of an elected body is to communicate with each other to form policy. This communication is both informal and formal and needs to be done in person. It’s why bodies such as the House of Delegates and Congress require a in-person quorum. In fact, it’s the foundational reason why the Texas Democrats can stop legislation from being enacted by leaving the state. Ms. Mosley, Ms. Mallo, and Ms. Watts can make all the claims they want about it being about creating opportunities for diversity, of the ability for people to have jobs to call in remotely, etc. but, as Mr. Banyas eloquently pointed out, all that is already allowed. What this is really about is what it’s been about for months: COVID hygiene theater to appeal to their lap dog supporters on social media who still virtue signal by having masks on their Twitter profiles. The CDC–y’know the actual scientists who study this–have said stated in person gatherings of this sort are fine. But, yes, I know, let’s only follow the science when it backs up our political viewpoint.

      • Not politically motivated. Science motivated. For the entire course of the pandemic, I did what I would expect a science-minded liberal would do: listen to the CDC and observe what they said to do. Close schools when over 5%? Check. Wear a mask? Check. Get a vaccine? Check. But then the CDC says we don’t have to wear masks and suddenly my supposed political allies are all “Oh, the CDC doesn’t know what they are talking about” and people are still driving around with masks alone in their cars. You cannot have it both ways. I put science at the top of my list no matter what and politics way down on the list. And frankly, I am so disillusioned by my supposed political allies that I don’t really care anymore if it doesn’t make me “nice.”

  4. I think what Scott brings up is relevant. If the BOE is serious about opening the school for in person in 2 months, it is about time for some BOE members to set a good example and start participating in person as well. I understand, it is always safer to stay at home if the work can be done remotely, but it is the optics that is in question here. If teachers and students are being asked to go back, why do they get to stay home?

    • Totally a valid point – and I 100% agree. When students and teachers are required to report to work in person, so should the elected officials passing that edict. This article however is about the current time frame. They are not just “staying home”, it is a good example to choose virtual interaction over very public contact until absolutely necessary. A high vaccination rate is laudable, but the real possibility to contract COVID anyway is still a prevalent possibility.

      • Define prevalent. The current 7-day new case average in HoCo is 2.41 per 100,000 people. Now think about what that means. If I’m sitting amongst 100,000 people there’s a .002% chance it’s someone who doesn’t know they have COVID. Next, let’s say I go to Giant and there are 150 people there. The odds that one of those people is the 2.41 out of 100,000 who don’t realize they are sick is next to nothing. Now take how many people a BoE member would come in contact with if they attended a BoE meeting in person. 14? 15? And it’s the same people every time. And if they wanted, they could even wear a mask, which Dr. Wu chooses to do. Totally his right. Even if they did get COVID, the odds are even more tremendous it will be benign. It’s the whole point of having got the vaccine.

        There’s no science behind the trio’s decision to not attend unless they will never attend because the virus will always be here. So it’s either fear, a political statement, or some other reason I cannot see.

  5. Jen Mallo attended the HCPSS Superintendent’s press conference with other BOE members, County Executive, and County Council members – without a mask. But, she can’t show up for public Board meetings – especially when the new Student Member is sworn in?

  6. Scotte,etal. The top set of pictures in the article are attemtping to make a point that Carroll County BOE is interacting face to face and in person with the public. When I go to https://www.howardcountymd.gov/health/covid-19 and look at the county openings and closures, I see “Howard County Government Buildings Closed To Public Until Further Notice”. So, logically, shouldn’t the main point be about pointing out that Howard County Govt buildlings are closed to the public instead of trying to name blame BOE members? If you were being fully transparent, and using basic logic, doesn’t it make sense that you should really be questioning the overarching closure of the buildings to the public?

    • Yes, he should blame the BoE members. BoE members are permitted to attend meetings in person. Five have chosen to do their duty, three have chosen to not do their duty.

      • I guess its an opinion that not going to the board meeting equates to not doing their duty, but I’m not sure if that is the only opinion. Consider that the 3 members seemingly being “blamed” may have a reason for not being in-person (underlying health issues, other personal health information which isn’t any business of those forming an opinion). I don’t see any evidence that the members participating virtually are under-performing their duties (especially with NO public participation allowed at the meetings right now). Also keep in mind the equitable comparison I pointed out from Scotte’s social media post is that Carroll County HAS public attendance at meetings, whereas Howard County is closed to such participation. I’m glad Scotte provided reference to an earlier post in the comments section, however the blog post above failed to mention the buildings/offices being closed to public participation. Lastly, if you do listen the linked meeting video stream (BTW, the meeting discussion about virtual participation occurred AFTER [~5:40pm] Scotte’s social media post [~5pm]) you’ll notice that some members understand that offering additional ways for BOE participation (ie. virtual) could increase diversity on the board, and ensure the tenant of not releasing PHI. If you’re concerned about public transparency of the BOE proceedings, then you’ll also notice from the video that members going in person admit that some dissussions and decision are made away from the public eye when they talk in-person and off-camera.

  7. This is an unscientific observation by me but when I go into buildindgs(retail, restaraunts) it seems like people in Howard county wear masks more than surrounding counties despite being the most vaccinated. Scared?overl cautious? Don’t know but with school supposed to start soon some decisions need to be made quick.

  8. They should be fully back to work. If they’re vaccinated, they shouldn’t worry. If not, then get the vaccine or wear a mask. Otherwise they should resign from their positions. They enjoy the disconnection from the public. They get to shield themselves from the public rebuke of their ridiculous polices. Other locations are facing the public and they’re perfectly fine.

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