City legislators excluded by county delegation

November 23, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Regional politics got off to a somewhat parochial start yesterday in Towson when six city legislators who represent more than 30,000 Baltimore County residents were excluded from the first gathering of the county's new contingent to the House of Delegates.

The members of the county House delegation who did attend the meeting in the County Council work session room in the old courthouse -- besides the city legislators, five county delegates, including four Republicans, were also absent -- decided unanimously to recommend that the six city legislators have two votes -- one for each district involved -- in delegation meetings during the General Assembly session.

Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick of Dundalk, a Democrat who was unanimously chosen the new chairman of the delegation, said delegates from the 46th and 42nd districts deliberately were excluded from the meeting, which was organized by E. Farrell Maddox of Essex, the outgoing delegation chairman, who was not re-elected.

"We wanted to discuss and get our house in order first," Mr. Minnick said.

The 46th District covers much of East Baltimore but also takes in a small portion of Dundalk. It has 5,315 voters and more than 10,000 residents. The 42nd District covers Northwest Baltimore and extends into the Pikesville, Colonial Village and Ruxton areas of the county, where about 24,000 people live, 16,789 of them registered voters. A full legislative district has about 100,000 people.

Three other districts -- the 10th, 47th, and 8th -- cross the city-county line, and two others -- the 12th and 6th -- cross boundaries between Baltimore County and other counties. Except for the 47th District, decisions on minority voting privileges in those cases must be made by the delegations of the city, Harford and Howard counties. The 47th District is divided so that the county portion is a one-delegate sub-district, eliminating the need for new voting arrangements.

The delegation's recommendation on voting privileges will go to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., who is trying to craft a statewide policy to settle the question.

That's the approach Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, a Democrat who represents the 42nd District, has said he wants. Trying to be diplomatic about being excluded from yesterday's meeting, he said, "Everybody's interests were better served if we had been there."

Del. Carolyn J. Krysiak of East Baltimore, a 46th District Democrat, strongly objected to her exclusion.

"It's kind of a sad thing," Ms. Krysiak said. "I have a problem with not even being able to witness the pro- cess." She said residents of the county part of her district need to "know they have the same level of representation that everyone else has."

Mr. Rosenberg said he has known informally about the proposed voting formula since last week and did not object to it. He stressed the benefits to the county from the influence city legislators have in the House leadership. "We are in a position to benefit the county," he said.

But Del. John S. Arnick of Dundalk, a Democrat and the most experienced legislator in the delegation, warned the 16 county members -- including 10 freshmen -- that city and county interests will diverge on issues such as redistribution of education aid. Any proposal to redistribute education aid would probably give more money to the city at the county's expense.

Del. Thomas E. Dewberry of Catonsville, a Democrat starting his second four-year term, told delegation members to work together on money issues as a way of returning more of county taxpayer money to the county -- especially for school construction. "Because of disunity, we lost out" in the last four years, he said.

The choice of Mr. Minnick as delegation chairman came almost by default, since he is the only one of four county Democrats with previous legislative experience who is not in line for a General Assembly leadership position.

Mr. Arnick, Mr. Dewberry and Del. Michael H. Weir of Essex are expecting to get important committee leadership jobs.

Mr. Minnick was appointed to fill an unexpired term in 1988 and served until 1990, when he lost by six votes. He won a new term this year.

Other new delegation officers, both freshmen, will be Del. Dan Morhaim, an 11th District Democrat, vice chairman; and Del. Joan N. Parker, a 10th District Democrat, secretary.

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