Two Can Play Party Politics, Gop Councilmen Aver

July 31, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The two Republicans on the County Council, tired of being snookered by their three Democratic counterparts, said Monday they plan a little devilment of their own.

Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, and Darrel Drown, R-2nd, said they will be "looking more carefully at the political background" of the county executive's nominees to citizens commissions. They also said they hope to "make (County Executive Charles I. Ecker) a little more careful in the names he is sending in."

"You haven't seen more Republicans than Democrats being appointed" to boards and commissions, "but you will now," Feaga predicted.

The Republican councilmen's pledges were prompted by their Democraticcounterparts' rejection Monday night of a Republican nominee for thecounty ethics commission.

Ecker, a lifelong Democrat until wooed by the Republicans two years ago as their nominee for executive, has not been looking at the political background of his appointees, Feagasaid. That seemed of only moderate concern to Republicans until Monday, when, at the end the council meeting, Feaga asked that the nomination of ethics commission nominee Allan Kittleman be voted on.

Kittleman, a member of the Republican Central Committee and son of popular House of Delegates minority whip Robert Kittleman, R-14B, was nominated to the commission by Ecker May 6.

When Kittleman appeared at his council confirmation hearing two weeks later, Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, asked him, "Aren't you an elected official?"

Kittleman replied that he was an elected party official, not an elected public official. Pendergrass was unimpressed by the distinction. She said she thought it was inappropriate for an elected official to serve on the county ethics commission and asked that Kittleman's nomination be tabled until the commission resolved the issue.

The commission met July16 and decided that "the county's public ethics law does not disqualify an elected party official" from serving on the commission. Barbara Cook, the county's chief legal officer, told council chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, in a July 22 letter that she concurred.

That wasgood enough for Feaga. It was time now, he reasoned, to confirm Kittleman's appointment -- especially since the council will not have another legislative session until September.

The Democrats disagreed,voting 3-2 to keep Kittleman in limbo.

The problem, Pendergrass said, is that the only requirement for serving on the county ethics commission is that members be county residents. State ethics commissionrequirements are "so much more stringent," she said, that she wonders "if the county law is adequate. We need time to consider this wholeissue."

Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, also voted no, saying that whileKittleman "is a very impressive individual," the issue of ethics commission membership deserves further study. Gray, who cast the third nay, said the council needs to check with other counties to see how they handle ethics commission appointments.

An irate Feaga said he was "a little surprised and a little shocked" by the Democrats' vote. "I thought we had our own laws," he said. "If it were the Planning Board or something, I would have understood it differently."

With the exception of the Planning Board, the council routinely approves theexecutive's nominations to citizens commissions.

And earlier Monday, Feaga and Drown had voted with the Democrats to unanimously confirm five Ecker nominees to other boards and commissions, four of whom were Democrats.

Feaga said he thinks the Democrats "have no intention of ever bringing up Kittleman's name again. They were acting on directions from the Democratic Central Committee. They were puppets todo it."

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