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Teachers' Union E-mail At Issue in MoCo Election

Montgomery County's largest teachers' union is rallying its troops to support school board President Nancy Navarro in Tuesday's special election for the vacant County Council seat of the late Marilyn Praisner.

MCEA is targeting the 1,100 teachers who live in the eastern county's District 4 with mailings, robocalls from President Bonnie Cullison, and e-mails.

It was an e-mail sent to teachers on their school system addresses this week that raised concerns from at least one teacher and supporters of one of Navarro's rivals, Don Praisner, the widower of the late council member.

Praisner supporters questioned whether the e-mail violated school policy on electioneering within a school building. Mary Pat Spon, MCEA's UniServ Director, explained that the e-mail purposely left out Navarro's name and instead asked recipients to link to MCEA's website for more information.

"I can readily see how the message would lead you to question our sending of the e-mail. It does everything BUT identify our recommended candidate and that is the essence of our strategy to stay within MCPS rules," Spon wrote in response to a concerned teacher.

But Tom Israel, MCEA's executive director, said yesterday that Spon got it wrong and that the union was well within its rights to send an e-mail endorsing Navarro. MCEA, he said, can send such e-mails to school system addresses just as members of the public can e-mail teachers from school Web sites.

"The system would be discriminating against us if we were not able to mail into the system when everyone else can," he said. "The suggestion is kind of silly."

So why leave out Navarro's name? "We're trying to drive people to our Web site," he said. "It could have said, vote for Nancy five times over."

By Ann Marimow  |  April 11, 2008; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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I think that the Post needs to look at the "independent," expenditures by SEIU in this campaign---mailings, etc. SEIU made, "independent" expenditures of over $1/2 million to the campaign of Donna Edwards.

Meanwhile, any teacher concerned about Property Tax Relief has but one choice: Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief!

And union members need to think for themselves. I remember at the rally O'Malley arranged before the recent special session in Annapolis. The Governor trucked in a couple hundred union guys in to have them say they supported his tax increase package. I spoke to every one of them individually before their rally started. And every one to a man was opposed to the Governor's plan to increase the state sales tax 20%.

I call every person who has bankruptcy actions filed against them in Montgomery County. The vast majority are minorities. The biggest property tax increase in 20 years and the property tax increases for the two years after that, which are supported by the King and Queen of Foreclosure, Praisner and Navarro, are going to put hundreds more into foreclosure and price thousands more, many of them children of SEIU members, out of the housing market.

Mark Fennel is an expert on finding waste, mismanagement and inefficiency at Citizens Against Government Waste. SAVE OUR HOMES! Vote Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief!

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | April 11, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

This is part of the well financed Navarro PR machine and it's playing Clinton-like semantics with the rules so they don't get busted for violating the Hatch Act. Without exception, every politician who has taken significant contributions and support from special interests like unions has remained beholden to them. The last thing we need is another UNION YES puppet on the Council. Somebody has to pay for all that - and it's US!

In terms of results, under Ms. Navarro, MCPS test scores have declined (she recommended lowering the criteria for minority students to offset this in a candidate forum prior to the last BOE election) and expenditures have spiraled upward by....wait....can't see the books! Yet, Special Education programs have been recommended for cuts, Paint Branch High School's fire alarm system failed due to age and the Fire Marshal had to order a round the clock staff fire watch so that classes could be held. My kids still have classes in trailers. A gun crime was committed this week inside a Montgomery County school by suspected illegal aliens who somehow got waved into the school system and WE are paying to educate. OUR PTA PRESIDENT'S CALLS HAVE GONE UNRETURNED BY "PARENT/CHILD FOCUSED" BOE PRESIDENT NAVARRO!!!

We have seen what Ms. Navarro has to offer, and beyond the pleasant smile and demeanor, it's a dismally failed leadership record. In fact, I hope she does leave the Board of Education so that MCPS isn't lead into receivership and doesn't lose even more of its performance edge.

Navarro said recently in an interview that she's learned to speed-read so she can digest all she would need to know about the district's issues - How can somebody who needs to "cram" issues be an effective elected representative?

Is this pathetic record what you or I want from a Councilmember?

Posted by: Navarro Reality - Looks great if you lower your expectations | April 11, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Don Praisner take money from the firefighters who want the biggest retirement package ever devised by man---full beneifts after retirement at 40?

Posted by: Fireman Don | April 11, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Wrong candidate - not Praisner.

The IAFF (firefighters' union) local contributed to the Navarro and Ryan campaigns. Don Praisner is endorsed by the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire/Rescue Association.

Volunteers don't get paid so there's no retirement package. They have the same training and qualification requirements as the career firefighters, but no compensation. The Association has contributed no funds to the Praisner campaign or any other.

Posted by: It wasn't Praisner, it was Navarro and Ryan | April 11, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Good point about firemen, What did Don tell the Montgomery County Federation of Teachers about pay hikes and tax increases? MCEA?

Posted by: Not Firemen, Teachers | April 11, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute the volunteer firemen just got or are about to get a big retirement and benefits package---check it out.

Posted by: The firemen too | April 11, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

There is no retirement package at all for volunteers.

What you are probably referring to is an agreement reached recently to provide qualifying volunteers with winter gear that is compliant with the NFPA requirements for body fluid protection and reflectivity, protective boots, and gear bags. There are provisions for grievance disposition, proper record keeping, access to training, and other operational items. Nothing about "retirement" or other "benefits".

There is a MARYLAND STATE length of service award program that provides a tiny benefit (a couple hundred bucks a month if that much) to volunteers with decades of continuous qualifying volunteer service. This has been around for many years and all Counties in MD contribute to support it.

Posted by: Please get it right - facts are important | April 11, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The MCGEO has been mailing the same nonsense to the County Employees endorsing the same candidate. As far as I am concerned, as a county employee for over 8 years, the union has done nothing but take money from our county employees' paychecks and then spend the money in the bedroom of the County management.
Anyone who is affiliated with the union ends up being removed from their position by county management by using one method or another to marginalize the employee.
Of course, management is not affiliated with unions, so they have the most secure positions, with the highest 6 figure incomes in the government. Why the incomes of lower and middle income professional and non professional staff is being blamed for County spending, makes no sense at all.
Someone needs to look at the income of management and the way they spend their annual leave while the staff remains semi unattended and working long hard hours without compensatory time.
Now, tell us why the hard working blue and white collar workers in this county should support a candidate who is affiliated with the union in any way?
I would much rather support this Fennel guy after seeing how much waste is incurred as an inside employee.

Posted by: negative experiences with unions | April 11, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

The problems with Nancy Navarro go well beyond her association with the union bosses. She has been an unresponsive BOE member ever since she arrived. Just try to get her to return your call if you have a pressing issue at your school. Parents and PTA leaders throughout the Northeast Consortium and Sherwood Cluster have been treated rudely by Navarro and have not had their views represented on the BOE since she was appointed. She is hell bent on implementing her world view on the voters of District 4, not representing the views of District 4 voters. Any of the other choices would be much better than Navarro.

Posted by: Anyone But Navarro!! | April 14, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone But Navarro" is absolutely right. This has been our experience as well with Navarro on the BOE. She has shown virtually no responsiveness to the Northeast Consortium since she has been in office.

I have seen this happen personally regarding the failed fire alarm system and the subsequent staff fire watch at Paint Branch High School this past fall. Apparently the safety of our kids is not important enough to warrant even a courtesy return call from a staff member.

Can you imagine what would happen under a Councilmember Navarro scenario if something on a larger scale were to occur in the East County?

That's right, voice mail again. That's certainly not up to the standards of Marilyn Praisner and the other Council members.

Let's limit Nancy Navarro's career growth for our own good by not electing her to our Council. We can't afford more of her trademark dead air in the East County.

Posted by: Northeast Consortium Parent | April 14, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

So VERY glad that the Dem voters of District 4 had the good sense to reject Nancy Navarro. She got just what she deserved for her miserable performance on the BOE and for ignoring her constituents for four years. She blew us off so many times and now she knows what it feels like. She still has two years left on the BOE and hopefully her politics of division (not possibilities) won't gain any more traction than it already has. Way to go voters of District 4!!!

Oh, and way to go MCEA. Your leaders (Gerson and Cullison) have developed quite a skill for picking losers.

Posted by: Anyone But Navarro | April 15, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

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