PG School Teacher Uses County Email to Electioneer for O’Malley
Using the official county school email system, a Prince George’s County Public School teacher urged her colleagues to work the polls for Governor Martin O’Malley.
In an email time stamped 12:42 PM October 18, Catherine Kenny as PGPS delegate to the Maryland State Education Association convention told hundreds of county school employees that “the union stated at the meeting the National Board Teacher Alliance had in early Oct that they need to see at least *50 of us* at the Polls on Election Day.”
Kenny goes on to write “Please note that I was a delegate at the Conference in Ocean City and we really need to push voters to vote O’Malley if we want to keep our retirement plan.”
Using government email for political purposes is a huge no no. Section 16-234 of the Prince George’s County personnel manual states “Employees shall not engage in partisan political activity during their hours of employment.”
The county school calendar does not list October 18 as an off day and Kenny asking hundreds of her co-workers to electioneer for O’Malley counts a partisan political activity.
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Kenny even provided an online spreadsheet for her colleagues to sign up, netting a whopping four volunteers.
Perhaps Kenny’s intended audience knew what she did not, as two of her co-workers did question the propriety of her solicitation. One recipient responded asking Kenny to remove her from the email list. The recipient said she did “not agree with the agenda that is being supported,” and did not want to “be told who to vote for through my county email.” The recipient alluded that the email “may even be illegal per the memo that [county school superintendent] Dr. Hite sent out through the legal office.”
Maryland’s teachers unions are a thoroughly reliable Democratic special interest so it isn’t a big surprise a union connected teacher would feel no compunction about violating personnel rules. They churn out campaign volunteers, and Democrats reward them with favors in Annapolis. As Democratic state Senator Mac Middleton once said “It’s labor unions and trial lawyers that get Democrats in office. And you don’t bite off the hand that feeds you.”
Indeed, just this past legislative session O’Malley handed the unions a lavish gift in the form of the deceptively titled “Fairness in Negotiations Act.” The law strips the state board of education’s power to resolve labor disputes and puts unprecedented power in the hands of a Public School Labor Relations Board. The Washington Post warned that the new board could award the unions with contracts local school boards can’t afford.
It’s not only Kenny and her union comrades who need to worry about their “retirement plans.” State taxpayers who foot the bill do as well. Maryland faces a tsunami of pension and retiree health care benefit obligations. Teachers are part of Maryland’s pension system, and right now Maryland faces $32 billion in unfunded liabilities over the next 25 years and the system is only 65% funded, well below actuarial standards. During the gubernatorial debates O’Malley ducked and dodged questions about how he would address the pension problem. If past behavior is any indication O’Malley won’t bite the union hand that feeds him. He’ll kick the can down the road leaving tax payers with the bill.