Howard council approves new boundaries Executive considers resolution illegal

December 03, 1991|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

After failing last night to overturn an executive veto of a law creating a new councilmanic map, the Howard County Council's three Democrats approved the map by resolution, which is not subject to executive veto.

Before the 3-2 vote on the resolution, County Executive Charles I. Ecker said he considered the approval of new councilmanic lines by resolution to be illegal.

The executive went on to say that the current district lines are on the lawbooks and cannot be changed by resolution.

"I think the law supercedes any resolution," he said.

The council's resolution leaves open the strong possibility that the issue could be decided in the courts.

Republican critics of the map claim it could institutionalize a majority of Democrats from Columbia on the five-member council for the next decade.

The councilmanic district map is scheduled to go into effect in 1994 and reflects the changes in population in the suburban county of nearly 195,000. The current district lines took effect in 1986.

In other action, the Howard County Council unanimously approved Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, as chairman of the legislative body for the next year. He replaced Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, in the leadership post. Mr. Gray was appointed chairman of the zoning board last night and Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, was picked as chairman of the liquor board.

The council voted 3-2 to deny the appointment of the Rev. Dana Walter Collett to the county's Human Rights Commission. The minister of the Covenant Baptist Church in Columbia was defeated along partisan lines with all three Democrats opposing him. His nomination by Mr. Ecker proved controversial because his congregation had put blue and pink crosses on the church lawn to protest abortions in Maryland. Opponents also questioned how rigorously he would enforce a county law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual preference because of his church's concerns about the practice of homosexuality.

Councilman Darrel E. Drown, R-2nd, accused the three Democrats of "discriminating against someone because of his religious beliefs" and suggested the American Civil Liberties Union should investigate Mr. Collett's rejection.

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