Monday, July 13, 2015

Cloudy With a Chance of Veto

Sunny skies with rain - seems like a perfectly good day for a veto.  The County Executive issued a press release on Friday stating that there would be a press conference today at 1 pm to announce his decision on Council Bill 17-2015 (i.e., the Nutritional Standards bill).  Considering the press release uses words like "restrictions" and "mandates", the stage is set for our first Executive veto of the Kittleman era.  This veto is not likely to come without accouterments.  The Executive is also expected to announce an executive order related to physical activity that will be titled "HoCoPlay" or "HoCo#AllanGoesToCamp" to express the Republican counter-philosophy on health measures best described as "personal responsibility".

Veto Press Conference BINGO squares should include:

"Government doesn't know best"
"Parents know best"
"You're the boss"
"Big brother"

More importantly, we should all watch to see if the Executive Order paired with this veto (presuming one is offered) is designed to peel off one of the four Democratic Council-members or is primarily directed to the court of public opinion.  I presume the Flier's editorial office is already trying to figure out how to cast this veto as a "bipartisan hand-across-the-aisle."

Despite my personal support for this bill, I think the County Executive's decision to veto is a fair one.  He took a position and he's holding it.  It would have been preferable for him to have participated in Council negotiations to get a bill that he could sign, but he chose not to and this is Plan B.

If you're a Democrat on the County Council looking to "count to three" on future bills, this veto is a gift.  The Nutritional Standards bill was not a throw away measure.  Council-members worked nights and weekends to negotiate provisions, pull back perceived over-reach, and draft a bill that four members could support.  That's the work of deliberative government and I don't think any of them would be willing to throw that away based on the Executive's say-so.  If there was any belief by Council-members that the County Executive was "on their side" or would help them achieve their legislative goals, this veto refutes it.  The Executive was invited to the negotiating table, chose not to come, and now looks to dispose of the final product.

Friday morning I thought the weekend would be a nice time for tempers to cool and wounds to heal between the Council and the Executive.  This press release disabused me of that notion.  No time to forgive and forget.  Just time to gear up for the next fight.  This is a much different approach than what we've seen over the last eight months whereby the Executive would present legislation or executive action only to withdraw it in the face of political opposition or controversy.  Now it's "Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead."

It's going to be hard to come back from this.  We may be entering into the new normal.

Have a great Monday doing what you love!