Tuesday, May 02, 2006

'It won't be transparent, even though we will pretend it is'

The Washington Post reports more parallels between the scandal-plagued Montgomery County Planning Board and the School Board.

As before, Clarksburg is the issue.

The Planning Board's former top attorney says she resigned March 31 after nearly 17 years because the board has become "dysfunctional," increasingly politicized, and (if one reads between the lines) corrupt.

"I could not represent the members of the Planning Board as I felt ethically I had the obligation," Michele M. Rosenfeld tells the Post.

Rosenfeld says Planning Board Chairman Derick P. Berlage, who is trying to get a second four-year term, has to go. She talked to County Council member Nancy Floreen about replacing Berlage.

Even though the County Council says it is looking for other candidates to apply for board chairman by May 31, Rosenfeld says, Floreen tried to dissuade her, saying the process was rigged.

"This deal will be made in advance, and it won't be transparent, even though we will pretend it is," Rosenfeld quotes Floreen as telling her.

Floreen, a former Planning Board member and a Berlage critic, would not comment to the Post on the nature of her conversations with Rosenfeld, citing confidentiality issues, but she did not deny making the statements.

Nancy Floreen is known as one of the straight shooters on the County Council.

"Rosenfeld said she was no longer given time to provide closed-door advice to the five-member board, something she had done routinely for years," the Post reports. "Consequently, she said, there was no opportunity for candid discussion of legal options."

"Rosenfeld said Floreen told her that the [County] Council was more concerned about 'getting through an election' than about helping the agency run efficiently, improving staff morale or dealing with the building industry's problems," according to the Post. "All nine council members are seeking reelection or higher office this year."