Letters to the Editor

December 20, 2008

To the BOE: Let the sun shine in

To the editor:

Some people have asked why I abstained from voting on the recent officers' election for the Washington County Board of Education and why I had not abstained in the past. My answer: I wish I had known then what I know now.

It is current practice to hold nominations, discussions and any disagreements in a closed session. During the following public session, the officers are re-nominated for show and the usual public vote is 7-0. In other words, the public part of this process in no way represents the earlier closed session.

This past September, while attending the state convention for Maryland Boards of Education (MABE), I discovered, from many of my colleagues throughout the state, that their election of officers occurs in public session rather than closed.


Further research with MABE's legal adviser confirmed this information and supported this interpretation of the Open Meetings Act, often referred to as the sunshine law.

Many Boards of Education follow the "intent" of the Open Meetings Act, which is "based on the General Assembly's policy determination in favor of open decision-making by governmental bodies. Furthermore, the conduct of public business in open meetings increases the faith of the public in government and enhances the effectiveness of the public in fulfilling its role in a democratic society," 10-501 (b)(2).

Closed sessions - much like the unattributed Mail Call entries in The Herald-Mail - allow political agendas, comments and hearsay to be stated from behind the cover of anonymity.

As public servants, our job is to police ourselves, insisting on a broad interpretation of the Open Meetings Act, which ensures the public's business is conducted in the sunshine of accountability.

I stand ready to invoke the Open Meetings Act whenever the public's business isn't being conducted for all to see.

Donna L. BrightmanElected memberWashington County Board of Education

Thanks to all who helped with Exchange's party

To the editor:

The Antietam Exchange Club held its annual Christmas Children's Party on Dec. 6, at the Zion Evangelical Church.

The club would like to publicly thank its sponsors: Susquehanna Bank; Hagerstown Trust; PNC Bank; Kohl's and its five volunteers; AC&T; Netconn Solutions; Youngblood Studios; Holcim Cement Co.; Fox and Associates; Centra Bank; IAFF Local 1605 Hagerstown Professional Fire Fighters; Zion Evangelical Church; Anonymous Donors; and the Healthy Families Program at the Washington County Health Department. The 65 children and their families sponsored by the Washington County Health Department Healthy Families Program experienced a wonderful party with entertainment, lunch and gifts from Santa Claus.

They received numerous gifts of clothing and toys as a result of the generosity and support from our sponsors. The entertainment was provided by; Abigail Nigh and her father, Lance Nigh; Otterbein United Methodist Church, Cherub Choir and Carol Choir. It was a great party.

Brenda BushArthur SchneiderAntietam Exchange Club

Let Jesus' name ring out through our entire nation

To the editor:

The quiet night encourages me to empty thoughts from my mind and give it a deserved rest.

It isn't an easy task. Some are escaping, turning, creating a restless spirit. Years have passed, so many, so quickly, I ponder: Did I face and solve obstacles with truth and righteousness?

Did I faithfully carry out my obligations to others? In times of sorrow and grief, did others see my tears and touch my extended hand? Was Jesus in my conversations? He not only hears our complaints and petitions, but our prayers, thanks, honor and praise to His holy name.

Did I turn the other cheek when slapped and not retaliate, making matters worse? Do I utilize my belief and surrender, receiving His power to overcome the evil Satan hurls at me as I rebuke him out of my life and my family's.

At the name of Jesus, hell trembles and Satan must flee. May that name ring out in our homes, our schools, businesses, all through our nation. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

France MoatsHagerstown

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