Not only is the MD Senate bill unethical, it probably violates Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution,
No State shall . . . pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts. . .But our representatives in Annapolis don't seem to care. I wonder if they cross their fingers when they take their oaths of office.
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM, marcy_canavan <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
How exactly could the BOE "pay no damages due to terminating, cancelling, or not proceeding with any contract." ?
In the real world when you cancel a conract signed in good faith you are obliged to honor it. In the real world, if you do this, there are penalties, and unless this contract is somehow strangely drawn, I am sure there would be penalties for cancelling it.
We scream constantly about unethical behavior, but here is a proposed law with a new and interesting twist -- REQUIRE a governmental body to behave in an unethical manner????????? And make no mistake -- cancelling a contract is UNETHICAL!
We agree the BOE shouldn't have signed the contract, but that does not mean that laws should be passed REQUIRING that the BOE behave in an unethical manner. Furthermore, if they cancel the contract, whatever penalties that would involved would surely kick in. So, no matter what it tried to do, the BOE won't get the money -- because surely penalties would then be levied - and the levying of penalties is beyond the BOE's control.
If the state is planning to cut the BOE budget by $36 million dollars, then they need to not try to shift the blame for the budget shortfall onto the BOE. But if this bill passes, the state will be able to say:
"If the BOE had done what we wanted, they would have $36 million more dollars. The shorfall is their fault."
It is fair to say that if the BOE hadn't spent money on a headquarters building, there would be some more money available to spend on other things (more like $8 million???), and that has been agreed on by virtually everyone, but....that is accurate. Setting the BOE up to take the fall for a $36 million shortfall in next year's budget is not.
We elected the BOE, not just the legislators. We elected the BOE to run the schools, not the legislators. When the BOE screws up, we the voters need to hold them responsible, but this legislation presents a very dangerous precedent -- if the BOE does something the legislature doesn't like, they will make funding contingent on the BOE undoing thier actions?
This is an incredibly bad policy precedent. If that's the way we are going to do things, then just eliminate the BOE and let the legislature run the schools, because the BOE will never be able to make another decision or sign a contract without wondering whether some legislator who doesn't like the decision will try to undo it.
This kind of threatened action hurts the kids in the schools a whole lot more than buying a headquarters building. The amount for the budget year being considered isn't remotely close to $36 million.