A group of black leaders charged yesterday that the County Council has ignored the concerns of the black community.
The Black Political Forum organized a press conference to say that only one County Council member -- Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis -- responded to a survey addressing issues facing the black community. The 12-question survey was sent to council members more than two months ago.
Forum members say the lack of response to the survey points to a deeper neglect of black citizens' concerns.
"The council has showna blatant disregard for the interests of the African-American community," President Lewis Bracy said.
Bracy said the council has slighted the black community several times recently.
In August, the council refused to waive development restrictions on land around the oldWiley H. Bates High School in Annapolis, once the only high school for blacks in the county. Developers want to build about 90 town homesto pay for a community center and senior housing project at the site. The council said the decision should be left to Annapolis officials.
Last month, Councilman David Boschert, D-Crownsville, introduceda redistricting plan that would maintain the same minority concentration in the Annapolis-area district, despite a recommendation by the Charter Revision Commission that the concentration be increased.
"The council's complete disregard of the redistricting proposal is consistent with their total disregard for African-American concerns in general," Bracy said.
Boschert said his plan was the best one for all residents because it moved the fewest number of precincts. "I feelthat this is a people-oriented bill," Boschert said. "It's not a political bill."
Bracy said the final straw came Sunday, when no council members showed up for a reception at the Banneker-Douglas Museum honoring nine black leaders, including new county Personnel Director Donald Tynes.
Council members deny charges they have been unresponsive to the black community, saying they have been too busy with the county's fiscal crisis to answer the survey. Some say they plan to answer it soon.
"I didn't know they had wanted the surveys so soon,"said Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn. "I would hope they know I'm accessible to them if they have any specific concerns. I have a very strong black contingent in my area and we've worked closely together."
Other council members said they would rather the forum meet with them to discuss concerns.
"I feel the format they used wasconfrontational," said Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold. "Sitting down and talking one-to-one or with the whole council would accomplish far more than issuing a questionnaire."
The survey asks whether council members support making the quasi-independent county Housing Authority a county department, denying liquor licenses to private clubs that discriminate, establishing a civilian review board for police matters and creating a program to encourage minority business with the county.