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School Board Member Says Bill Targets Her

Sen. Bobby Zirkin seeks to prohibit school board members from serving if they're married to a registered lobbyist.

The vice president of the Baltimore County Board of Education says a bill sponsored by state Sen. Bobby Zirkin targets her solely because of the person she married.

Valerie Roddy said Thursday there was "no reason based on my actions as a board member over the last four-and-a-half years to introduce such legislation so I can only conclude this is a personal attack designed to retaliate against anyone named Roddy."

Valerie Roddy is married to Patrick Roddy, a former lobbyist for Baltimore County who know works for Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan and Silver.

Zirkin said the bill is preventing possible conflicts of interest.

"I think in terms of members of the school board, they should be above any appearances of impropriety," Zirkin said.

Patrick Roddy and his firm in 2007 represented a company that unsuccessfully sought to place a cell phone tower on the grounds of Randallstown High School. Valerie Roddy had not yet been appointed to the board. Zirkin pointed out the client during the discussion of his bill.

"Neither my husband nor his law firm have represented any clients before the board of education since my appointment," Roddy said.

"I am disappointed that a member of the Senate would use his office to launch a personal attack," Roddy added.

Zirkin and Patrick Roddy are currently at odds with each other over the actions of another of the lobbyist's clients.

Columbia Gas Transmission is seeking to build a natural gas pipeline parallel to one it already owns that runs through the county into Harford County. That new pipeline would run through the neighborhood where Zirkin lives.

Zirkin didn't reference the conflict in the delegation meeting but spoke about it in an interview.

"I think he's a jackass," Zirkin said of of the lobbyist. "If he's not trying to put a cell tower where kids are, he's trying to ram a gas pipeline where people live. It's always something."

Zirkin called Patrick Roddy "dirty" and, when asked to explain, said he based his comment on the clients the lobbyist represents.

"I consider it dirty when you take money to stick it to communities," Zirkin said. "He and his firm are always involved in doing something bad to citizens. It seems no matter what the issue that he and his firm are involved and trying to stick it to somebody."

Zirkin initially denied a personal bent but later said "we all take it personally when someone is trying to stick it to your constituents, stick it to your neighborhoods or stick it to people in general."

Valerie Roddy acknowledged the the dispute between her husband and the senator.

"The senator is entitled to his opinion," Valerie Roddy said, adding that she believes the bill is not specifically about her husband.

"I look at this bill as it's all about me," Valerie Roddy said.

Carney Mom February 08, 2013 at 12:28 PM
You are right, stop making it personal because it isn't. There is no way one person - you - can be the reason as the legislation is valid and needed in Baltimore County. Vote in the issue and stop dragging in distractions to try and confuse the public.
Get Real February 08, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Here's Zirkin on an elected school board: "I think the superintendent is doing a really good job, and I like a lot of the members of the school board, but there's a basic principle of democracy that we deny our citizens," Zirkin said. "It doesn't matter to me who the members are. We teach our students that democracy is the best form of government, and yet on this issue … somehow democracy gets denied." Democracy, yes, unless Zirkin has a twisted personal grudge because a lawyer's client wants to expand a pipeline in his backyard. Then, it's democracy except for those who don't bow down to Zirkin. Who is the real jackass here, Bobby?
ddbs00 February 08, 2013 at 01:35 PM
So Zirkin isn't making this personal, although he is.
M. Sullivan February 08, 2013 at 02:18 PM
You took the words right out of my mouth, Real.
Joe bem February 08, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Zirkin has been trying to reform the school board for a long time. Good for him. Having a lobbyist or someone that close to one on our school board is exactly why political hacks don't belong on it. And on the pipeline, I read it goes through lots of homes and Oregon ridge. Good for our senator. Tell it like it is.
Towson mom February 08, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Roddy is what's wrong with our school board. Uncaring self entered jerk. Anything that gets rid of her is good with me.
Carver February 08, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Bobby Zirkin is the only democrat I would vote for. Finally a politician with a backbone.
Steve February 08, 2013 at 11:13 PM
It's nice to see a politician tell it like it really is.
Carver February 08, 2013 at 11:24 PM
When a politician taking on a lobbyist on behalf of the community he represents is news you know w e are in trouble. Go get em senator. Keep fighting for us. I know pat roddy and he is a class a jerk.
Calm down February 09, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Seems to me that Zirkin has lost some credibility on the school board issue. He can't claim he wants an elected school board so "the people will decide", and then limit who the people will decide. No wives of lobbyists? Give me a break!
Jason Diablo February 11, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Amusing that you know exactly what the Senator said at a hearing in Annapolis. Can you say insider? Give me a break "Get Real." You my friend are a big joke. And yes, everyone knows exactly who you are. I was there too. And the Senator is absolutely correct about both issues. We need an elected school board. And we don't need political appointments running the system because you get nothings like Roddy.
Get Real February 11, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Nope "Jason" you must be the joke/jackass. I wasn't there. I read the quote from Feb. 1 Sun article.
astheworldturns March 06, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Ms. Roddy - - -- - waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
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