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Wednesday •  December 7, 2022

State Bill 10-23 is a Political “Door-in-the-Face” Compliance Method. Don’t Fall For It.

By Steven Keller

State bill 10-23 by Clarence Lam and Courtney Watson — a bill that proposes to have two members of the HCPSS Board of Education be appointed by the Howard County Executive from a candidate list provided by the State Delegation — is a perfect example of the “Door in the Face” technique.


Here’s how this compliance method works for political dealings:

  1. Without warning or prior discussion, propose a plan or bill that gives you all that you want and more — a bill/plan that is guaranteed to be outrageous to many members of the community.
  2. Wait for those in the community paying attention to notice the plan/bill and proceed to be outraged.
  3. When outrage and public testimony & protests against your proposed plan/bill reaches a level that is hard to ignore, offer to scale back your plan or amend your bill to just slightly reduce its outrageous aspects (or perhaps just mask the outrageous parts from being obvious).
  4. Bask in the glory of the praise you receive from the public for making a supposed “compromise” and proceed to pass the amended bill/plan that gives you most (or even all) of what you originally wanted, yet, to the general public, seems like a “less outrageous” and benevolent compromise. Claim that you’ve done the will of the people.
  5. Rinse and repeat as needed.


Note that in the recent Board of Education vote on whether to support or oppose this bill, Board members Jen Mallo, Jolene Mosley, Antonia Watts, and Jacky McCoy all had issues with the original proposed motion to reject State bill 10-23 **in its current form**.  Also note that Mallo, Mosley and Watts mention that they have spoken to Lam and Watson about the bill and have received insider information that an amended version is forthcoming.

Ultimately, the HCPSS Board of Education voted to oppose State Bill 10-23 in a 5-3 split vote, with Mallo voting “NO” and Mosley and Watts abstaining.


The Board members who voted “NO” or abstained from this vote  (Mallo, Mosley and Watts) know the “door in the face” technique that Lam and Watson are employing and are playing right along with it.  They are waiting for an amended version of the bill to support that will still be outrageous and yet seem like a minor improvement over the original draft.  For example, the bill may be amended to keep the 5 Councilmanic district elected members and the 2 “at-large” countywide elected members, but still proceed to add 2 new politically appointed members to the Board.  Such an amended version of this bill should still be viewed by the public as a complete nonstarter.

This approach to governance is disrespectful, divisive, and wastes the time of countless community members. Howard County residents should reject HoCo State Bill 10-23 as written and with any future amendments. It is a fundamentally flawed bill that deserves to be completely withdrawn and never considered again.


Howard County residents should also keenly remember the politicians who proposed this bill (Clarence Lam and Courtney Watson), and should take note of other local politicians who support it either overtly or tacitly by failing to publicly condemn it. 


“Door in the face” political maneuverings such as this should not be tolerated in Howard County.  Any politician who is brazen enough to employ or support this technique should be given a swift exit from public office by county voters.

Call to Action for All Concerned County Residents


Are you concerned about this proposed billHere’s what you can do about it:


There is a Public Hearing for this bill (Ho. Co. 10-23) that will take place on Wednesday, December 14, from 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building ( 3430 Court House Dr, Ellicott City, MD 21043 ).  Here are the official details about this hearing, published here:


The Howard County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, chaired by Senator Clarence Lam and Delegate Courtney Watson, will hold a public hearing for citizen input on local legislation proposed for the 2023 General Assembly session. The hearing will be held in the Banneker Room in the George Howard building from 7pm until approximately 11pm. Signup will be available online from 6pm on 12/12 until 6:30pm on 12/14. In person signup will also be available until 6:50pm on 12/14 outside the Banneker Room. The link to the form will be posted here in the coming weeks. It is recommended that you bring 13 copies of written testimony if it accompanies oral testimony. Speaking is not a requirement, so written testimony may also be emailed to


The hearing will be live streamed here


If necessary, a second hearing on December 15th at 7pm will be held via Zoom to hear testimony that could not be heard on the first night. An announcement will be made if this is the case. The hearing will be live streamed on the Maryland General Assembly website (


If you have any questions, or require accommodation, please email

Also, if you would like to protest this bill, consider attending this event:

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