Monday, May 11, 2015

Time to Start Paying Attention

2015 Howard County politics is finally getting interesting.  Similar to a George R.R. Martin novel, a series of plots with various characters have met their inevitable crossroads without any clear indication as to how things will pan out.

First, the Howard County gun ban passed the Council with a 4-1 vote.  Notably, it passed without an exception for those with concealed carry permits, as publicly requested by the County Executive at the Oakland Mills Town Hall:
Kittleman said he wants to see an exception for concealed-carry permit holders added to the bill.
Considering that those with concealed weapons were the de facto target of the bill (open carry is not legal in Maryland), this was not a likely exception to be made.

This is the first "veto-relevant" bill to be passed by the Council to the County Executive and its final disposition will define the early relationship between our cross-partisan branches of government.  Notably, should the County Executive veto the bill, he does so with the knowledge that he will likely be overridden.  This is not "Growth Tiers 2012".  Does the County Executive hold out for a concealed carry exception or does he sign a bill that he doesn't agree with in concession to the 4-1 majority?

The Council has shown its own bit of gusto by pushing back on the County Executive's first action in office of reversing the previous Executive Order that reduced the amount of sugary beverages sold on County property.  Council Bill 17-2015 would require the County to provide healthier alternatives along with the sugary drinks and high calorie snacks that were reintroduced to County vending machines with the ban reversal.  This bill has already received support from The Baltimore Sun, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Maryland Chapter, and MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society.  We've yet to see what the Council will do with this bill, but I think there is a high likelihood it passes.  Will the County Executive accept this as a compromise that allows "choices" or will it be against his philosophy of  not having "government choose winners and losers"?

Finally, a funny thing happening on the way to the Planning Board.  As covered more than adequately by Bill and Julia, the County Executive's most recent pick for Planning Board appears both premature (Josh Tzuker is eligible to serve a second term and has done nothing wrong to merit early removal) and...well...odd.  I don't know Susan Garber and have nothing negative to say about her, but she has had plenty to say about members of the County Council (i.e., those people who affirm the County Executive's nominee).  Allowing Ms. Garber to speak for herself, she has called the County Council "accolade-obsessed", accused Jon Weinstein of trading favors for campaign contributions, and described Howard County educators as being "greedy" and "manipulative" in seeking higher pay during last year's contract negotiation.  So I guess the Council is just supposed to let bygones be bygones?

As I said, if you weren't paying attention before, there is plenty to dig into now.

Have a great Monday doing what you love!