Seeking Model For Charter, Panel Looks To Constitution

January 29, 1992|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — In its efforts to write a charter for Carroll, the county charter board hasn't put a single word on paper.

But while trying to developa framework for the draft charter, the nine-member board has an oft-tested and well-known document to help guide it: the U.S. Constitution.

During a work session last night at the Ag Center, board members referred to characteristics of the Constitution.

"The genius of a good constitution is that it is a general constitution instead of a particular constitution," said Charles O. Fisher Sr., a Westminster attorney and board member.

Last night's meeting was the final in a series of public work sessions. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the board holds thefirst of four February public hearings at which the citizens can voice their opinions about a charter.

The meeting will be held at theWestminster High School Auditorium.

Earlier yesterday, two charter board members met with the county commissioners to recommend hiringa consultant to help the group finish the draft charter in time for the November general election.

Board Co-chairman Walter Bay and Secretary Barbara S. F. Pease said assistance from the University of Maryland's Institute of Governmental Service would increase the chancesof having a charter ready for the election. The commissioners have emphasized they want the charter on the ballot in November because voters tend to turn out at the polls in larger numbers for a presidential election.

Also, holding a special charter election later would cost about $50,000. Hiring the institute would cost the county about $4,000, Bay said.

The institute has assisted every Maryland county that has drafted a charter since the mid-1960s, Bay said, and alreadyhas provided free help to the Carroll group with its initial effortsto gather information. Bay said the institute's advice has been valuable and helped the board avert considering language that would have run afoul of the state constitution.

The commissioners said they would consider the suggestion.

In other charter board news, a Finksburg Republican filed suit in Carroll Circuit court Monday charging that eight people seeking to challenge the appointed board members in the March primary filed a invalid petition to get on the ballot.

Frank H. Rammes, who helped gather signatures that led to the formation last fall of the appointed board, argues that the petition filed bythe challengers last December violates the state constitution and should be thrown out.

With the March primary date looming, Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. yesterday ordered the defendants -- which include the commissioners and the county election board -- to respond within 10 days.

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