Howard councilman is angry over panel appointment process

September 17, 1990|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray accused Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass of taking orders from the administration of County Executive Elizabeth Bobo and of slighting other council members.

Gray, D-3rd, made that charge during the council's monthly meeting last week. He said Pendergrass, D-1st, should have told her colleagues of Bobo's plans to appoint the council auditor to her new spending affordability committee.

Pendergrass was told about the appointment before the executive unveiled the committee last Wednesday during a news conference that Pendergrass attended. Other council members did not learn of the appointment until afterward.

Gray said he was angry that Pendergrass received the information from the Bobo administration and was told to keep it quiet.

"I don't think you should do that," he said during the meeting Thursday. "It seems they're telling you what to do and you're doing it. They have no right to tell the chair of council and not tell other members."

Gray said he was disturbed because the auditor, Ronald Weinstein, is the council's employee and that all members of the legislative body should have been told about any plans to appoint him to a county executive committee.

Pendergrass acknowledged that Bobo informed her about Weinstein's appointment before the news conference and told her not to call other council members, but she contended that it was not her responsibility to tell her colleagues.

"It was their thing," she told Gray. "I represent you, but it's not my business to make announcements for them."

Pendergrass, however, said she also was displeased with the appointment process and said the council should voice its disapproval in a letter to Bobo.

County administrator Buddy Roogow apologized for the mix-up.

"[Weinstein] is their employee and we respect that, and certainly Council is the authority that would have to approve him serving on any committee. In this case, I think it was a failure to cross all the t's and dot all the i's, and I take personal responsibility for that.

"It certainly wasn't an effort to deceive or not inform the council."

Bobo formed the spending affordability committee to help the government plan for operating budget and other fiscal procedures. She also has appointed Roogow, former state Sen. James Clark and former state Del. Susan Buswell to the panel.

Gray indicated that he would oppose the appointment of Weinstein only to send a message to the administration.

"She [Bobo] has done dozens of these things," he said. "It's not oversight. It becomes intentional at some point. One or two times is oversight, but this goes on and on. It shows disrespect."

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