An Open Letter to Kenneth B. Haines
Yesterday I came across an opinion piece written in The Gazette by Kenneth B. Haines, President of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association. I am deeply concerned about Mr. Haines’ assumptions of Governor-Elect Larry Hogan, as well as his failure to see Maryland’s current budget crisis as the result of the O’Malley/Brown administration’s poor leadership and unwise policies.
And clearly, last November, the voters rejected a continuation of the O’Malley/Brown policies.
Now, I was going to write my own article countering Mr. Haines’ claims, but I decided instead to turn this opportunity into an open letter, from me, to Mr. Haines directly.
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Dear Mr. Haines,
My name is Robert Windley, and I serve as a member of the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee. I was elected in 2014 to serve the republican voters of district 23. I also serve as the Chairman of the Central Committee’s Legislative Subcommittee.
I came across your opinion piece in The Gazette entitled, “Stand Up For Schools”. I applaud you for your efforts in the field of education. Few things are more important than ensuring that our children receive a good education. I feel this more so now than at any other time in my life; later this year, my wife and I will begin sending our daughter off every weekday to a public school in Prince George’s County, as she begins kindergarten. As with other parents, my wife and I have a rollercoaster of emotions about this new adventure for our family. We want what is best for our daughter, as well as for our two younger children.
Mr. Haines, as I read your article, I couldn’t help but notice that you were implying that Governor-Elect Hogan would be a threat to the budget of Maryland schools.
First, you write that “advocates for all progressive causes are filled with trepidation regarding the ramifications of Gov. Hogan’s stated priority of cutting the Maryland budget.”
Mr. Haines, do you know why Governor-Elect Hogan is so urgently stressing the need to fix Maryland’s budget? Last month in the Baltimore Sun, it was announced that Maryland’s budget shortfall stood at $1.2 billion. Who has stood at the helm of Maryland State government for the last 8 years? Mr. Hogan? Mr. Rutherford? No, Sir. Mr. Hogan is now facing difficult budget decisions because of the failed policies and inadequate leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.
And hopefully, Mr. Haines, you won’t take my declaration as some sort of crazy, conservative idea. After all, the citizens of Maryland had a choice between Anthony Brown—Mr. O’Malley’s own pick to take over the State—and Larry Hogan, a successful businessman who campaigned tirelessly, connected with voters, and lead an effort to change Maryland.
People responded to Mr. Hogan’s message of not accepting business as usual. The fact that Maryland—a hugely democratic state—elected a republican, who was not holding any office at the time of the election, over the sitting Democratic Lt. Governor, says a lot.
The election of Larry Hogan over Anthony Brown sent a clear message that Marylanders are ready for change, and they agree that tough decisions need to be made with the budget.
Mr. Haines, where was all of the alarm over the last 8 years when the $1.2 billion deficit was growing? Didn’t education advocates within Prince George’s County, as well as within the entire state of Maryland, get a sense that if the deficit kept climbing, that it could spell disaster and potentially threaten key areas, such as education? Why is it that, now that we will have a republican governor, you and others suddenly see the budget as a serious issue? Was it not serious enough before for anyone to call out Governor O’Malley or Lt. Governor Brown on their out of control spending?
There is something else that concerns me greatly. Quite frankly, Mr. Haines, it frustrates me.
Were you aware, Mr. Haines, that when Mr. Kevin Maxwell was hired in 2013 as the Superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools, that he was given a $290,000 salary, guaranteed for 4 years, with a 10% annual performance bonus of $29,000 (keep in mind that the median annual pay for a School Superintendent in the United States is $146,573.)? Were you also aware that his contract—voted upon and approved by the Prince George’s County Board of Education by a vote of 11-0—provides him with a free vehicle, driver, and security personnel?
Having a car is one thing. But does Mr. Maxwell really need a driver and security personnel?
According to the Prince George’s County 2013-2014 Compensation Review Board Report, the median household income in Prince George’s County last year was $73,447. Mr. Maxwell’s salary and list of perks and “freebies” are a slap in the face to every resident of this county.
And an even bigger slap in the face to county residents is that Board Chairman, Segun Eubanks, said at the time that the final copy of Mr. Maxwell’s contract would not be released until signed.
Mr, Haines, where was your opinion piece speaking out against Mr. Maxwell’s expensive contract?
I am concerned that we, the residents of Prince George’s County, our allowing our Board of Education to approve salaries and packages that are completely inappropriate, and especially so during the hard times with which we are faced.
I will be proposing a motion to the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee in our February meeting that will read as follows:
Be it moved that the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee calls upon the Prince George’s County Board of Education to require that new contracts for the position of Superintendent be voted upon only after a public hearing regarding a new contract, and also after a period no less than 10 days in which the full final draft of a contract is available to the public. Furthermore, we call upon civic groups, community activists, and concerned citizens to join us in lobbying the School Board to require such action.
Mr. Haines, if this motion passes the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee, will you join me in lobbying the School Board to require such action?
Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Personal disclaimer: The views expressed in this article and letter are those of Robert Windley, and do not necessarily reflect the views of either the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee, or its Legislative Subcommittee. In this instance, Robert Windley does not speak for either entity.