Glendening presses for charter rule Commissioner form of government is called '19th-century'

State report cites his aims

Goal could be reached if legislature ceased passing local laws

September 06, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

An article in Friday's Carroll County edition incorrectly stated that recommendations for controlling suburban development compiled by the Maryland Office of Planning were proposals of Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"Some of the recommendations may become recommendations of the governor, but they are not yet that at all," said Judi Scioli, the governor's press secretary. "The one thing the governor doesn't want to do is dictate how the counties will be run."

The Sun regrets the error.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening wants Carroll and the nine other Maryland counties with commissioner governments to end what a report called their "19th-century county management" as soon as possible.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

If counties such as Carroll do not adopt charter government or "some form of home rule" on their own, the governor wants to force it upon them, according to a state planning report given to county planners at a meeting last month of the Maryland Association of Counties in Ocean City.

He would do that by ending the General Assembly practice of passing local legislation. If, as he hopes, the General Assembly ends the practice by 2003, "The remaining county commissioner counties would have no choice but to accept some form of home rule," the report states.

The recommendation is among dozens of options designed to strengthen neighborhoods and slow suburban sprawl, aired last month at the Ocean City meeting.

Home rule "more readily allows a jurisdiction to address problems of growth and neighborhood revitalization and to be more pro-active in economic development," the governor says in the charter initiative proposal.

Not surprisingly, reaction to Glendening's approach was mixed in Carroll, where municipal leaders have been advocating a change to charter government.

Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman, an advocate of charter government, said he is heartened by the governor's proposal. "It sounds good. I like it," he said. "The sooner the better. I don't think we should wait until 2003."

State Sen. Larry E. Haines, who pushed a bill through the General Assembly this year that would have overturned a local land-use policy if the governor had not vetoed it, is not worried that state lawmakers will lose their ability to sponsor local bills.

The governor is "dreaming," Haines said. "It is very difficult now to craft [statewide] legislation that will apply across the state.

"One hundred eighty-eight legislators aren't going to give up total control of all local legislation," Haines said. "The governor won't get support for that."

Eldersburg resident Dan Hughes, founder of a slow-growth civic group called Solutions for a Better South Carroll, said the charter government proposal and another initiative that would make communities of at least 1,000 people become incorporated cities with full taxing powers, "would be great."

The county's General Assembly delegation "spends too much time interfering in local matters," Hughes said. "We need to bring control back to the local level. Short of charter [government], the people of Freedom and Eldersburg need to have taxing powers."

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin, who with Herman is leading a push to get charter government on the ballot again in Carroll -- it failed by a 3-2 margin in 1992 -- welcomes "at first blush" the governor's call for home rule.

"The more local the governmental entity that is making the laws, the better," he said. "Local elected officials are closer to the situation, more affected by it and therefore more responsive to it."

But Carroll Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty disputes that logic. "The major element in the functioning of government is the caliber of the people you elect," he said.

Getty doubts that the General Assembly will help the governor achieve charter government by surrendering its power to enact local laws because local laws often have statewide implications.

He noted that a Howard County request for repeal of blue laws forbidding sales of cars on Sundays was "one of the most controversial to handle." Legislators from nearby jurisdictions pleaded for defeat of the Howard bill, saying it would create a hardship for auto dealers in their jurisdictions who would be forced to open Sundays to stay competitive.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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