Gardina gets the nod, DePazzo gets angry

November 30, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County's new County Council members won't take office until Monday, but Dundalk's Louis L. DePazzo gave his colleagues a taste of his bare-knuckled political style at an informal get-together yesterday.

By the time the Towson lunch was over, Mr. DePazzo had accused one of his new colleagues of lying and said his fellow Democrats had ganged up on him to freeze him out of the chairmanship.

The group selected Perry Hall's Vincent J. Gardina, one of only two returning members and the only incumbent Democrat, to lead the new seven-member panel in its first year.

In Baltimore County, the chairmanship is mainly an administrative job that normally rotates annually.

If yesterday's discussion of the chairman's post is any indication, the new council's term is likely to be more colorful and controversial than those of the past.

Over the last eight years, council members have generally tried to keep their disagreements out of the public eye.

But, during 16 years in the House of Delegates, Mr. DePazzo has never been shy about criticizing his fellow elected officials -- even those he supported in the past.

"I had the feeling a loop was developing, and I wasn't in the loop. I don't appreciate how it was done," Mr. DePazzo said of the decision on the chairmanship.

Mr. Gardina, the new chairman, is part of a five-member Democratic majority on the council. Several Democrats said that as the only Democratic holdover, Mr. Gardina was the logical choice to be chairman the first year.

Mr. DePazzo, however, made it bruisingly clear that he was angry about not getting the chairmanship and would not foster an illusion of friendly cooperation among the ruling Democrats.

First, Mr. DePazzo said, it was not until he said he wanted the council chairmanship that Mr. Gardina became interested. Then, the former delegate said, Mr. Gardina secretly recruited the three additional votes he needed.

Next, Mr. DePazzo accused Joseph Bartenfelder, the new councilman from Fullerton, of betraying him and dodging his phone calls -- despite their history of 12 years of service together in the General Assembly.

"I was in West Virginia hunting all week," Mr. Bartenfelder said.

"You were there," Mr. DePazzo retorted. "Your son said you were in the bathroom."

Mr. Bartenfelder replied that his sons are only 16 months old. He also said he backed Mr. Gardina so that the chairman's post would be occupied by someone with council experience.

Finally, Mr. DePazzo accused Pikesville's new representative, Kevin Kamenetz, of not telling him of his intention to vote for Mr. Gardina but of revealing it to Dundalk state Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr.

"I'm not that interested in being chairman," Mr. DePazzo said at one point, noting that outgoing chairman William A. Howard IV was defeated this year and that Mr. Gardina, who had never held the chairmanship, was re-elected.

"It won't gild anyone's lilly," he said of job's questionable political value.

"What are you so surprised and hot about?" Mr. Kamenetz asked Mr. DePazzo.

"I think it [the chairman] should be a returning member. It's almost protocol. I don't think there's any games being played."

Mr. Gardina said he decided to bring the chairmanship up at lunch during the new members' orientation to foster a free and open discussion.

He said there was no "loop" for Mr. DePazzo to be left out of.

Although the chairman's post is normally filled in January, the council-elect had to decide the issue earlier because of Mr. Howard's defeat.

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