Balto. Co. delegates OK college reform bill They give Senate measure unanimous approval without making changes

March 29, 1997|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Despite some grumbling, Baltimore County's General Assembly delegates unanimously approved without amendment yesterday a Senate bill reforming the county community college board of trustees, making enactment likely next week.

The measure would enlarge the board from 11 to 15 members and impose a limit of two consecutive five-year terms. It would also distribute the membership geographically by having two members from each of the seven County Council districts, and one chosen at large.

Some of the delegates -- and college faculty members -- wanted to include provisions requiring a student member, setting qualifications and training for board members and preventing reappointment of the board's longest-serving members.

Some faculty leaders have charged that the all-white board appears to be an "old boy network." The county senators recommend members, who are appointed by the governor.

"We were frustrated that the House was not involved in the process," Del. James W. Campbell, a city-county Democrat who heads a county House subcommittee on the colleges, said of the bill before the delegates' voice vote.

Del. James F. Ports Jr., a Perry Hall Republican, blamed the chairman of the county's Senate delegation -- Essex Democrat Michael J. Collins -- for rejecting any change in the bill, which was already approved in the upper chamber.

"A lot of good stuff was going to come out of this, and one guy stopped it," Ports said.

Collins rejected as "disrespectful to the board" calls to empty it of the longest-serving members. "Did they all of a sudden lose their minds?" he asked, referring to years of uncontroversial service. "Some of the members of the board are my friends."

Ruppersberger administration lobbyists worked to pass the bill unamended, fearing it would fail otherwise -- plunging the colleges back into turmoil that erupted in December and climaxed with the firing in January of Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista.

Lobbyist Patrick H. Roddy promised that County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger will back a new bill next year to have a student member on the board.

College faculty members attending the session supported the bill as better than nothing.

"We've learned that you do not turn down half a loaf," Essex Community College Professor Christopher Rhines told the delegation.

Pub Date: 3/29/97

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