Democrats Preach Diversity, But Twist Arms for a Different Result

While a lot of attention was paid to the recent changes in Anne Arundel County that have mercifully brought an elected school board to our county, we are still feeling some of the ramifications of the 2016 Democratic temper tantrum over the makeup of the Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission.

Earlier this week, the School Board Nominating Commission nominated a new member to replace Tom Frank, who resigned from the Board of Education:

Colin Reinhard of Linthicum was selected Thursday night to fill a vacant at-large seat on the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County, replacing a member who resigned from the position this February.

Reinhard will we sworn in Sept. 1. His first board meeting will be Sept. 6.

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The School Board Appointment Commission voted for Reinhard from a pool of 23 applicants, one of who withdrew, according to the school system’s website. The vote occurred in several rounds. A first round narrowed the field to three candidates. In the second and third rounds Reinhard didn’t receive the eight votes required — commissioners explained their stances, and in the fourth round of voting Reinhard was selected.

Reinhard and his wife own Paradise Doughnuts in Linthicum. Before opening that shop eight months ago, Reinhard gained more than a decade of experience in public education, working in both Montgomery and Anne Arundel County. He worked most recently as the department chair for mathematics at North County High School.

Just so we’re clear, here’s the picture that of Reinhard from the Board of Ed site.

So why does this matter? Well, if you remember, a few years ago Democrats railroaded through changes to the School Board Nominating Commission. 2016’s HB 172, which was passed through an override of Governor Larry Hogan’s veto, radically altered the makeup of the members of the Nominating Commission. The bill stripped nominating power from the Governor and spread it out to liberal political groups and to the County Executive. The bill was designed specifically to take power away from the Governor and ensure liberal control of the Board of Education.

One of the reasons that Democrats claimed to have railroaded this bill through was diversity. The two cheerleaders of that were Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (who was running for Congress at the time) and Delegate Pam Beidle (who is now running for the State Senate).

In 2016, Pena-Melnyk said:

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, D-College Park, said with 16,000 black students and over 10,000 Latinos in the county school system — one of the largest in the state with approximately 80,000 students — it was “unacceptable” to not have more minorities seated on the nominating commission or the Board of Education itself.

The nominating commission has 11 members, one of whom is not white. The school board has nine members, one of whom is not white.

Pena-Melnyk, who is running for Congress, said she would advocate having NAACP and CASA de Maryland seats on the nominating commission.

“We bring diversity. We bring experiences that you don’t have, and that is important,” she said, later adding that she was the only person of color among the delegates. “And I hope that you get the message, loud and clear, because I personally will get in the middle of that bill and get up on the floor and kill it if I have to if you don’t have language in there that calls for diversity.”

She also said:

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s, said including minority perspectives on both bodies is important.

“This is not political; this is about diversity, and this bill provides for that,” she said.

Delegate Beidle during this time period also said:

“We’re trying to be more diverse in the process,” said Del. Pamela Beidle, D-Linthicum and chairwoman of the subcommittee.

So that brings us to the appointment of Colin Reinhard, who as you will notice is just another white guy. Which is he was the most qualified guy, fine. But that may not be the case.

You see, 23 different candidates applied for the vacancy on the Board of Education. And sources close to the process tell Red Maryland that one of the frontrunners for the appointment was originally not Reinhard, but was actually Eric Wright of Brooklyn. Mr. Wright is an African-American Democrat in Brooklyn, well-respected in the community and cares deeply about education.

So why did Mr. Wright not get appointed? Well….

  • Wright wowed many of the members of the Commission with his candidate package and his interview performance before the nominating commission. But…..
  • Democrats see Colin Reinhard as a potential candidate for high office, such as Anne Arundel County Executive, in the near future. Not necessarily by 2018, but certainly by 2018. And…
  • While Eric Wright is an African-American Democrat, he publicly supported Republican Wes Adams for Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney in 2014. So…
  • Democrats were not going to allow somebody who has shown disloyalty to the Democratic Party to be appointed to the seat over a potential “savior” for the Democrats. Ergo…
  • Democratic legislators, including Beidle and Pena-Melnyk, began working the phones and twisting the arms of Democratic leaning members of the School Board Nominating Commission to vote for the white guy Reinhard over the African-American Candidate Wright, notwithstanding their protestations of 2016.

Not only did Wright get passed over, but no minority candidate made it to the last rounds of the process.

And there you have it.

Mercifully, the voters will have the final say in this process in most instances starting in 2018. But it’s telling that after making diversity arguments as the need to take away Governor Hogan’s involvement in the original Nominating Commission (a power that the Democrats had specifically carved out for Martin O’Malley in 2007), were thrown away at the expense of political expediency in protecting a Democratic Party that is dying across Maryland.

If they are capable of shame, Pam Beidle and Joseline Pena-Melnyk should be ashamed of themselves.

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