Baltimore County Council members displayed frustration yesterday at County Executive Roger B. Hayden's policy that requires them to go through his office to get county departments to respond to constituent complaints.
They walked out on it.
Council Chairman Douglas Riley, R-4th, refused to begin yesterday's work session until Nicholas Spinnato, the Hayden aide designated to handle the council's constituent complaints, showed up.
The presence of Merreen Kelly, Mr. Hayden's choice for county administrator and the No. 2 man in the administration, did not matter, Mr. Riley said.
Without Mr. Spinnato, council members would be violating the executive's policy if they directly questioned department heads, he said.
Work sessions are scheduled twice a month so department heads can brief council members about funding requests they will be asked to approve at the formal meetings held a week later.
The chairman adjourned the session for five minutes so Mr. Kelly could fetch Mr. Spinnato. The meeting was held as scheduled -- but only after Mr. Riley was assured that council members would be free to question department heads at work sessions and regular meetings.
Mr. Hayden said after the session that council members would have to live with the policy for at least another 30 days, so he can track what it costs the county to handle constituent complaints.
But council members remain frustrated, saying the policy has slowed down the government's ability to respond to problems.
Mr. Riley said that since Thursday he has forwarded 38 constituent problems to the executive's office. He is still awaiting word on 37 of them.