The Anne Arundel County Council failed to override County Executive's Robert R. Neall's veto of a bill to permit carnivals on Sundays, angering proponents of the measure who said the decision would only make it harder for them to make ends meet.
"It's just unbelievable that they want to make it harder for us to do our job," said an angry Austin Isaacs, president of the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Co. Inc.
The attempt to override the veto required five votes. It failed when council members George Bachman, Diane Evans and Carl Holland voted "present" instead of "aye" in the override vote.
The "present" vote is similar to an abstention in that it means that the council member is there, but is not voting, said Atwood B. Tate, legislative counsel to the County Council. Tate, who reviewed the rules of procedurefor voting, said it has been used before when council members want it known that they are present at the time, but that they are not voting.
Isaacs and other company members pledged Tuesday night to do what they could to see that the council members who failed to support the measure are swept from office.
"If they want to stay in politics, they better get their act together," he said.
He said that extending the company's carnival from six to seven days by including Sunday would help it raise money as the county is cutting back on funding for fire house maintenance.
Joining him in support of the measure were Ralph Shaw, of Shaw and Sons Amusements, a carnival operator based in Severn, and Frances Jones, president of the Arundel Improvement Association in Brooklyn Park. Both said the measure would have meant no added costs to county government.
"This bill does not ask for any money from the county the way other bills do," Jones said. "Allwe're saying is, 'Give us a chance to help us make our budgets and let us pay our bills,' " she said.
The council passed the measure, 7-0, last month. But it was vetoed Feb. 14 by Neall, who wants to wait for recommendations from the Amusement License Commission he will appoint Feb. 24, said Myron V. Wotring, the executive's legislative liaison.
Wotring told the council that the commission will review the entire amusement code and oversight system, including the lack of current definitions for carnivals, lawn fetes and bazaars.
"I don'tthink that the month or so that this task force is going to be appointed to look into this will be all that damaging," he told the council.
Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, the bill's sponsor, hammered away at Wotring's reasoning, noting that the executive had no objections when the measure was first introduced last month.
"I'm just trying to find one problem this bill would create. From all that you're saying, I haven't been able to find one problem yet," he said.
Holland said he agreed with the executive. He said that Middlebrooks never approached him or other council members for input on the bill and that he believes that holding off will result in stronger legislation that will help the organizations.
"The commission's going to look at it. They're going to get back to us by the middle of April and their recommendations will more than likely include Sunday carnivals," he said. "Some of these organizations need two or three permits to runa carnival. With the commission, we're going to streamline that whole process."
But Isaacs said that after the vote he has little faith the new commission will go along with Sunday carnivals.
"They won't want to change anything. That's a Neall committee," he said, emphasizing the executive's name.
In other action, council heard comments from Robert Dvorak, head of Licenses and Permits, on a measure introduced last night to increase fees for the 5,200 crafts and trades workers licensed in the county.
The county's fees are currently among the lowest in the metropolitan area and haven't been increased for more than a decade, said Dvorak. He argued that they should be raised to ensure that the licenses pay for the regulatory system that oversees craftsmen. Fees for master electricians, gas fitters, mechanicsand plumbers would increase from the current $12.50 a year to $50.
Council chairman David Boshert, who represents the Fort Meade area,also introduced a measure urging the school board to appoint a military representative as an adviser to the school board because of the large number of military dependents in the county school system.