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Maybe we should all just try to get along

March 21, 2011|By TIM ROWLAND | timr@herald-mail.com
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

Several months ago — or maybe it was last week (at this age, the mind plays tricks) — Washington County Public Schools was all abuzz about bullying.

I don’t remember the particulars, obviously, but I think the school board was against it. I’m sure they tossed around words like “awareness” and “empowerment” and “stakeholders.” They’re big on stakeholders.

At the time, I didn’t get all that fired up over the issue one way or another. I know that bullying is wrong, but getting the snot beat out of you when you’re a kid is just one of those things you go through. If you’re grounded and well-adjusted, you get over it and move on. If you’re not, you turn into John Boehner.

But maybe I should have been paying more attention, since Washington County seems to be in a bullying state of mind.

Out at the state prisons last week, accusations were flying against AFSCME union rep Steve Berger, who stood accused by corrections officers of bullying the membership. According to The Herald-Mail, “witnesses ... alleged that Berger browbeat correctional officers when they questioned the effectiveness of the union.”

I know what you’re thinking. Bullying? At a union meeting? Noooo. We expect that kind of behavior over at the Lions Club, but not here.

And one other question: I know some dudes down at the prisons, and you can bully them if you want, but not me. I want to keep them on my good side. And I have a hunch they might take to being bullied about as well as a teenage girl takes to being called fat.

Nevertheless, meticulous researcher that I am, I went to the Web to size up this Berger chap. But it was of no use. There was Steve Berger photography, Steve Berger real estate, Steve Berger venture capital investor, Pastor Steve Berger and, no lie, Steve “The Red Nose Pitbull” Berger, MMA fighter.

If “our” Steve Berger is the latter, my interest in this story just went up several notches. Especially since, taking the lead in opposition to Berger, is none other than Washington County bully-in-residence Sen. Chris Shank, who complained to the state that “I find it completely unacceptable that Mr. Berger attempted to threaten and intimidate correctional officers.”

But it would presumably be acceptable if Berger were threatening and intimidating ladies at the Washington County Election Board, since Shank was accused of similar behavior earlier this year.

Or, it would be OK if Berger were to browbeat a county commissioner by way of anonymous phone calls, wink, wink.

The union, meanwhile, accused Shank of stirring up trouble to advance his “anti-union agenda.” You know, the old divide-and-conquer strategy. Well, maybe in this day and age there are examples of political vendettas against state-employee unions somewhere in this great nation of ours, but none come immediately to mind.

So maybe we should all just try to get along.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant on www.herald-mail.com, on www.antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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