Arnold Kling reviews recent rounds of political hardball in Montgomery County, including the ouster of officials who had been at odds with the teachers’ and other unions. As for the vaunted quality of public services, it’s not all it might be:
An increasing share of that budget is going to pensions and non-teaching staff who are union members. Actual classroom teachers are badly over-worked.
Because spending per student is by far the highest in the state, the WaPo constantly refers to Montgomery County as a high quality school system. However, the average outcomes in the County schools are mediocre. Students from the wealthiest parts of the County (three high schools in particular) produce good test scores, and the rest do not. Other school districts in Maryland get similar outcomes with students of similar backgrounds while spending much less money per student.
According to David Lublin and Adam Pagnucco at Seventh State, Montgomery County’s government liquor monopoly, under attack by Comptroller Peter Franchot and others, makes a broad and inviting target: it’s deeply unpopular with the public, not really needed for revenue, and its reform offers an opening for political newcomers, what with most of the incumbent council choosing to side against consumer interests and with MCGEO, which represents county store workers and “acts like a union out of Republican central casting, attempting to bully its opponents into submission.”
“We’re probably the worst, most regulated county in the entire country” on alcohol sales: Comptroller Peter Franchot has a thing or two to say about the need for Montgomery County to ditch its county-run liquor system (via). The Seventh State has run an illuminating exchange on the subject lately, and Bethesda Magazine has details of a partial privatization plan.