Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Abrams has a good idea: Investigate conflicts of interests

School board member Steve "Abramoff" Abrams has a good idea: His colleagues should reveal any conflicts of interests concerning MCPS decisions.

People continue to wonder about the hidden agenda that's driving the school board's obsessive campaign to shut down the Seven Locks Elementary School on the very valuable corner of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard.

According to the Gazette, Abrams accused one of the only school board members opposing the secret deal - Valerie Ervin - of having a conflict of interest.

He strongly opposes public oversight of the school board's internal workings, or even those of the Montgomery County Public Schools system itself. He says the Inspector General has no business investigating allegations of wrongdoing and corruption within MCPS.

Now he's trashing his own colleague for raising questions.

In attacking Valerie Ervin for alleged conflicts of interest - she is a staffer for County Council President George Leventhal - Abrams opened up a new can of worms for himself and his other colleagues.

"It was a kangaroo court, with the inspector general," Abrams foamed during a heated argument at the April 20 sbhool board meeting.

He assailed Ervin for criticizing him: "Are you speaking as a[county council] staffer, or are you speaking as a board member?"

He shot at Ervin, "you . . . have to avoid any conflict of interest."

One of the main school board figures behind the Kendale scandal, Sharon W. Cox, asked the school board's ethics panel to examine whether Ervin's council job and her school board membership presented a conflict of interests. The panel did not issue an opinion, and the county Ethics Commission gave her a waiver.

Abrams says his attack on Ervin was premeditated: "I think we wait and see how this plays out. I did not make the comment lightly or casually.”

Now: Let's look at potential conflicts of interests among the other board members. How could any honest official object?