The County Council rejected a proposal that would have allowed the county to sell advertising rights on Howard Transit bus shelters after it became ensnared in a partisan debate over taxes.
The County Council voted 4 to 1 last week against the measure when the two Republican members refused to go along with Democrats' plans to delay the vote.
"We decided if they are not going to be courteous to us, we are going to show our power," said council member Alan H. Kittleman (R-West County). "They started it."
Kittleman and council member Christopher J. Merdon (R-Northeast County) were upset that, moments earlier, the three Democrats on the council had delayed a vote on a charter amendment that, if approved by voters this fall, would make it more difficult to raise sales and income taxes.
Hoping to boost ridership on Howard County Transit buses, County Executive James N. Robey (D) had proposed selling advertising rights on dozens of bus shelters across the county. In exchange for the right to advertise, a private company would pay to build and maintain dozens of additional shelters.
Columbia, however, has strict covenants against outdoor advertising. And some community groups resisted the shelter proposal because they feared it would increase commercialism.
Council member Ken Ulman (D-Columbia) wanted to work out a compromise that would have kept advertisements off shelters in residential areas but allowed them in commercial districts.
The vote on the issue had already been delayed. Seeking more time to reach an agreement, Ulman requested postponing the vote again until later this month. Under council rules, it takes four votes to delay an issue a second time.
Merdon and Kittleman refused to support the delay. Left with having to make an immediate decision on the unamended bus shelter bill, Ulman and three other council members voted against it. Kittleman supported it.
Teachers' Confidence Up
Howard County teachers have confidence in the Board of Education and support its decision not to renew the contract of former superintendent John O'Rourke, according to a job satisfaction survey conducted by the local teachers union.
This is the second year the union has administered the survey, which was sent to all the county's nearly 4,000 teachers and staff members. About 51 percent responded.
The number of teachers who have confidence in the school board reached 66 percent, up 16 percentage points from last year and the biggest jump in the survey. Eighty-five percent of teachers agreed with the decision not to retain O'Rourke. The board opted not to renew his contract in January, and he stepped down at the end of February.
Just over 60 percent of teachers said morale at their schools is good, up six percentage points. Nearly 80 percent said they plan to continue working in education for the next three to five years, up five percentage points.
But teachers still think the county's support plans for struggling students are not useful. And only 30 percent of teachers said they work a reasonable number of hours, though that is up seven percentage points.
Last week county union leader Joseph Staub presented the results to the school board, which found them encouraging overall.
"I hope I'm not a Pollyanna here," said board Vice Chairman James O'Donnell. "But what I'm saying is that I'm seeing an end of that shift toward lower morale."
New Job for Glenelg Chief
Glenelg High School Principal Linda Wise has been named to head the county's 12th high school, slated to open next school year.
Wise has spent 10 years at Glenelg, the first five years as an assistant principal and then as principal. She was also a guidance counselor at Howard High School and worked in the Montgomery County school system.
Opening a new school "will be challenging and very rewarding," Wise said. "I'm looking forward to it."
The new school does not have a name yet. A committee of parents and principals has recommended calling it Stone Ridge High School. The school board is scheduled to vote on a name this summer.