County government came under fire on two fronts Monday as workers blasted County Executive Robert R. Neall's plan to cut jobs and Millersville residents vented their anger at lax enforcement of a landfill that has fouled their community.
In a marathon County Council session that ran five and a half hours and included more than 40 speakers, council members took no action on either issue, tabling related measures in the face of angry protests.
Neighbors of the county-run Millersville landfill urged the council to defeat a bill that would extend the county's jurisdiction over rubble landfills.
Council members assured the group that the bill, sponsored by Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett, a South County Democrat, only addressed the need to supervise rubble landfills, not sanitary landfills like the one in Millersville.
But the residents made it clear they were at the session to talk, not to listen.
They complained that government neglect and lax enforcement of environmental regulations has meant they cannot drink water from their wells, plant gardens in their polluted backyards, or even sell their homes at a fair price.
"Why don't you start trying to clean up our problem rather than trying to pick on all these other guys?" asked Thomas Fales Jr., a Millersville resident.
The Millersville facility is now the target of a Neall investigation. Its troubles have led to an administrative shake-up and prompted a law suit in county Circuit Court by neighbors.
"I have to live there, my family has to live there, and I don't want to leave my daughter anything that's poisonous. She's my only daughter," said Dale Wess, a resident of New Cut Road.
Daisey Klempa, another neighbor, called the situation "a decade of neglect."
After an hour of debate, Clagett agreed to hold the bill over to a later session so that community groups fighting rubble landfills in her rural south county district could brief the council on its benefits.
County employees and union leaders also took aim at a bill proposed by Neall that would prohibit workers facing lay-offs from bumping those with less seniority in other departments.
Council members agreed not to vote on the bill last night after Neall asked that it be held for amendments -- just a few hours after word got out that 150 angry county workers were due at the session to blast it.
Council members passed three less controversial measures:
* A resolution backing the expansion of Annapolis Mall. The unanimous vote came after about 30 mall supporters showed up wearing blue T-shirts with the name "Nordstroms" on them.
The upscale department store is to move into the mall if the expansion, planned for the past three years, is approved.
* A 1 percent increase in the county hotel tax, raising it to 7 percent. The money would create about $500,000 that would be earmarked for two projects, a conference and visitors fund and an economic development fund. Both would be used to promote tourism.
* A bill requiring restaurants and taverns to stock emergency resuscitation masks to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event that a patron suffers a heart attack.
Council Chairman David Boschert said the masks, which sell for about $10 and are standard equipment on most ambulances, could save a life because they allow people worried about AIDS to administer CPR without mouth-to-mouth contact.