Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Odd man out again: Subin's colleagues let him stew by himself

It was quite a thing to see: the unfolding self-destruction of a bully.

If County Council member Michael Subin had any allies among his colleagues, they made no attempt to bail him out at the March 21 hearing.

Witness after witness - about 30 in all - testified against the Subin-backed scheme to shut down Seven Locks school and build the Kendale "replacement." Nobody testified in support.

And nobody on the Council said a word to support the isolated education committee chairman as he tried to extort silence from Seven Locks parents who continue to press concerns about fraud and abuse.

Speaking at the end of the hearing, Subin threatened that, if the concerns continued to be voiced, he would use his education committee chairmanship to wreck the process to build a new elementary school for Seven Locks-area children.

He was the only blight - some might call it comic relief - on Council President George Leventhal's efficient and open hearing to let citizens publicly air their grievances and concerns.

Leventhal gave important bi-partisan support to Council member Howard Denis' amendment to axe the Kendale project and replace Seven Locks school on its present site - a fair compromise that the PTAs of the endangered school and Potomac Elementary found agreeable.

Council Vice President Marilyn Praisner asked tough but thoughtful questions. Member Nancy Floreen made all the witnesses feel welcome to petition their elected officials, while Subin, seated to her right, glowered at some of the families in an apparent effort to intimidate.

Members Phil Andrews and Mike Knapp took it all in, listening to panel after panel of witnesses and never once challenging the repeated constituent complaints of unfair MCPS treatment and unethical if not illegal MCPS practices.

The entire Council left Subin to stew all alone in his sandbox, looking more extreme and isolated than ever.