County GOP chief wants to know who Gray's been calling on his car phone Councilman calls move 'harassment'

December 10, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The chairman of the county Republican Central Committe has asked the County Council to divulge who Democrat Councilman C. Vernon Gray has been calling on his car phone.

"This is obviously harassment because I am rumored to be running for county executive," said Mr. Gray, D-3rd.

Allan H. Kittleman, who heads the GOP Central Committee and filed the formal information request, said it is no such thing. What prompted the request, Mr. Kittleman said, was an editorial in The Sun on Monday calling Mr. Gray's car phone use a phony issue.

An article last Thursday showed that Mr. Gray received the largest reimbursement of any council member -- $4,606 -- for car phone use since July 1, 1991.

"I'm not trying to invade anyone's privacy, and I'm not conducting a witch hunt," Mr. Kittleman said. "The Sun editorial said it was a phoney issue and I want to find out. The article said it covered 16 months, but really it was 10 months. That's $460 a month in phone bills."

If taxpayers are paying for those calls, "I should be allowed to see who he's calling," Mr. Kittleman said. "I'm not interested in who he's calling on personal calls, I just want to see how many there are and if we're getting reimbursed. I'll look at [the list of calls], and probably not even say anything -- just put them away."

Mr. Kittleman said the reason he requested itemized calls for Mr. Gray only was that Mr. Gray was the only person defended in The Sun editorial.

Republican Councilman Darrel Drown hopes Mr. Kittleman will drop the idea altogether. "Only bad blood can come out of that [request]," Mr. Drown said.

Mr. Drown, R-2nd, was quoted in the Dec. 3 article as saying he thought some of the expenses his Democratic colleagues were posting were "pretty frightening."

"When the expenses were listed, we thought they were high, but we were not suggesting there was impropriety or any wrong-doing," Mr. Drown said yesterday. "I hope the whole thing can just drop."

Republican Councilman Charles C. Feaga said he, too, would like Mr. Kittleman to abandon his request, which was filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

"As a council member, I don't care who another council member calls," said Mr. Feaga, R-5th. "I don't want to know. I do have a problem with the total amount of money spent. I would rather see us have a specific amount that we would could not exceed, but could spend as we see fit."

Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, said she wasn't aware of the information request.

"If they want to look at a list of my phone calls, all they have to do is ask and I will give it them," she said. "They don't have to write a Freedom of Information letter."

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