Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MCGEO Targets Schools in Questionnaire

The Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO), which represents most county employees other than police officers, fire fighters and school workers, has included the following six questions in its questionnaire for County Council candidates.

Question 4.

The County Council cannot force the School Board to equitably share in the furloughs - this year or next. However, it is apparent to the Police Officers, Firefighters and MCGEO represented county employees that the council was collectively unable/unwilling to summon the political courage to cut the school budget deep enough to force the council to distribute equitable furloughs. While some councilmembers postured for a deeper cut (2%), it was never brought to a vote. In fact, some councilmembers seemed to turn weak in the knees when dealing with the Superintendent of schools. You all collectively sought the shelter of the “lowest common denominator” and cut only $24.4 million out of a $2-billion dollar budget. This lack of leadership resulted in the council willing to confine the furloughs to the only side of the budget which accounts for just 1/3 of the employees funded by it. This devalues our service and the services we provide. OUR MEMBERS ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES!

If you are an incumbent, please explain:

• How do you justify this?
• Do you admit that Jerry Weast is a better negotiator than you?
• What, if any, regrets do you have?
• Can we expect the same response next year?

If you are a challenger, please explain what you would do differently:

• Would you cut the school budget?

Question 5.

The County Council makes decisions to allocate resources that fund both the school board and county services. The school board currently gets 56-57% of the total funds allocated by the council.

Do you think the share should: (Circle One)

(A) Be increased
(B) Stay the same
(C) Be reduced to a more equitable balance

Question 14.

The current economic crisis is placing substantial pressure on the County budget which funds both County and School Board services. If the State mandated Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is not waived then the County side of the budget must absorb the vast majority of budget cuts, layoffs and furloughs. If the MOE is waived, then the resulting impact of cuts, especially number of furlough days could be more equitably distributed across both County government and School Board systems resulting in fewer furlough days per employee regardless of employer.

Would you waive MOE in order to more equitably distribute the sacrifice across the employers?

Yes No (Circle One)


Would you temporarily waive MOE and disperse the pain more equitably?

Yes No (Circle One)


Question 15.

Montgomery County has a system where all school board members are elected county wide, although 5 must live in a district and 2 can live anywhere in the County. Do you favor electing school board members by single member districts?

Yes No (Circle One)

Question 16.

Do you think it was fair that only county employees were asked to do furloughs and the school system refused to do so?

Yes No (Circle One)

Question 17.

If endorsed by our Union, will you commit to writing a $4,000-$5,000 check to our PAC, like you would to MCEA, to assist our Union’s campaign on your behalf?


The intent behind these questions is obvious. MCGEO sees the budget as a zero-sum game between the county government (which also includes the police and the fire fighters) and the schools (which have three other unions including the teachers, supervisors and support staff). MCGEO is apparently trying to lock in County Council candidates to support its priorities even at the direct expense of the schools. So if any candidates agree with MCGEO, they put their endorsements from the teachers and the other school unions at risk. (To be fair, the teachers advocate for their budget too, but their questionnaires are not so heavy-handed.) And looming over all of this is the Washington Post, which is pressuring candidates to reject all public employee union support.

This is creating an impossible situation for any county-level politician who would like to deal reasonably, but not slavishly, with labor. We would not be surprised if more than one candidate refused to complete this questionnaire.