It looked like a wedding, someone said, the way the seven County Council members, each with a flower pinned to their lapels, posed for pictures after Monday afternoon's inauguration ceremony.
The honeymoon ended in just four hours.
No sooner had the the newly installed council recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of its first meeting Monday night than the bickering began.
As its first order of business, the council passed resolutions approving veteran Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, as chairwoman for a seventh straight year and Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, as vice chairman.
Under the previous council, the chairman and vice chairman were usually selected unanimously and with little comment. But on Monday, Clagett and Boschert won their appointments in spite of dissent from three of the four new members.
Clagett was chosen by a 5-to-2 vote, with new council members Carl G.
"Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena, and Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, voting against her. Boschert, who had wanted to be chairman, won the vice chairmanship by a 4-to-3 margin with Holland, Evans and newly elected George Bachman, D-Linthicum, dissenting.
Bachman and Holland stirred things up right away by questioning the procedure used to select the chairman and vice chairman.
Bachman -- who wanted to be chairman himself -- voiced concern about newspaper reports that a deal had been worked out among some council members to give Boschert the job next year if he supported Clagett as chairman and settled for the vice chairmanship now.
The returning council members denied the reports of a deal.
But Holland complained, "I haven't been consulted or asked for my opinion on the selection of vice chairman. I haven't even had an opportunity to talk with Dave Boschert about his qualifications to be vice chairman. For something that hasn't been predetermined, I have something here with a name on it that's already been typed up."
Holland then asked Boschert to "enlighten me on your qualifications."
Boschert replied that he had tried to contact Holland before Monday's meeting to explain his qualifications, but could not reach him.
"You have to be the only constituent in Anne Arundel County who hasn't been able to get me Monday through Sunday," Holland snapped, before challenging Boschert about whether the fact that he is out of work and looking for a job will hamper his work as a councilman.
After the meeting, Holland, who has openly solicited help in his new job, said he had wanted to be vice chairman, with Bachman as chairman.
Evans refused to name her choices. She said she believed Clagett will make a good leader, but voted against her and Boschert "because the voters gave us all a mandate that they wanted change and a refreshing new perspective on the County Council."
She also said that though other councilors denied a deal had been made to give Boschert the chairmanship next year, "I am not assured that would not happen."
Evans and new Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, were by far the quietest members of the council Monday night.
Bachman, in contrast, had something to say about almost everything. A member of the council from 1964 to 1982, when he lost a bid for county executive, he made numerous references to the way things were done on previous councils.
Bachman sparked a lengthy debate over the normally routine re-appointment of the council's administrative officer since 1982, Judy Holmes, when he complained that the council had not met prior to Monday's meeting to discuss the position.
Clagett pointed out that the county open meetings law has prohibited more than three council members from meeting in closed sessions since the early 1980s. Bachman replied that he liked it better when the council could meet privately to discuss such matters.
In other business, the council introduced nine bills, including legislation sponsored by County Executive Robert R. Neall to place a 10 percent cap on annual growth in individual property assessments.
Public hearings on the proposed bills are set for Dec. 17.
Despite Monday night's scrapping, council members denied their relationship is off to a rocky start.
"We all have a lot to learn and a lot to learn from each other," Clagett said during the meeting.
Afterward, asked about his argument with Boschert, Holland said, "Me and Mr. Boschert are good friends. It's politics. That issue (of who should be vice chairman) is dead. That issue is over now. We proceed forward."