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Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot. (File)

Franchot rebukes Kamenetz for panhandling for school air conditioning

A call by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for more money for air conditioning for some schools was met with sharp criticism from state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot.

Maryland’s tax collector and one-third of the board that approves funding requests for school construction and renovation funding rebuked the county executive and compared him to a beggar.

“I certainly feel very strongly that the some old tired excuses, the same old acting like a panhandler holding your hat out in the streets asking for money, how pathetic is that?” Franchot said. “Do your job.”

Kamenetz and county school officials came under heated attack from Franchot and Gov. Larry Hogan because of a lack of air conditioning in some schools.

The two-term county executive responded by saying that the county was engaged in a plan of systemic renovations to its schools, which collectively are the second oldest in the state behind Baltimore City, and said the state could help by putting its money where its mouth was.

“If the state gives us more money then I am sure we can reduce the number of schools without air conditioning more quickly,” Kamenetz said. “This year we got less under Governor Hogan than the years under Governor O’Malley.”

For his part, Kamenetz is dismissive of Franchot’s remarks.

“He does this to tweak me,” Kamenetz said on the Midday with Dan Rodricks show on WYPR. “It’s ok, it’s what he does.”

Kamenetz went on to call Franchot’s solution of purchasing window air conditioning units a “band-aid” approach.

“Some people like to lead by grandstanding,” Kamenetz said on the radio program. “Others lead by example and I think our position in Baltimore County is to lead by example.”

Hogan Wednesday said he would call on Kamenetz to appear before the board, possibly as early as Oct. 7, to answer questions about the lack of air conditioning in some schools. The governor said the state could play hardball with the county and threatened school construction funding.

“The fact that they can’t get the air conditioning situation straight is really unacceptable,” Hogan told WMAR television. “If we have to cut off funding, if we have to play hardball, we’re going to make sure that Baltimore County takes the steps that’s necessary.”