If Gov. Martin O’Malley thought he was going to get a simple question from the cherub-faced sixth-grade student from Baltimore City, he surely got a surprise.
The student, who identified himself as Ronald, is a member of the Baltimore Urban Debate League debate team and was one of the first in line early Wednesday morning. Of everything he could have asked, Ronald wanted to know O’Malley’s thoughts about how the government could be better at one thing—wait for it—open meetings laws.
“Recently I have found out that at some points and times the government has not been allowing the public to join in some of the meetings and not giving them a reason even when they are spending their tax dollars,” Ronald said to O’Malley.
O’Malley, who seemed surprised by the question, said school systems don’t always do a good job when it comes to public transparency and said lawmakers might need to see if there is a legislative remedy.
“One area where we need some more public engagement, openness, visibility, transparency has to do in the management of our school systems and the meetings and workings of our school boards,” O’Malley said. “It is a huge, huge cost center and many of them are operating with a great deal of autonomy especially when compared to other departments in the city of Baltimore or any county.”
O’Malley made his comments as part of an interview with Marc Steiner on his 11th annual Annapolis Summit broadcast. The show, of which The Daily Record was a sponsor, aired hours before the opening of the 2014 General Assembly session.
“I mean, these school boards have become almost their own entity within themselves and given the importance there I would think that might be an area where we might need some clearer direction and focus on transparency,” O’Malley said.