Sabotaging the charter effort Commissioner's plan to stack drafting panel violates public trust.

April 08, 1997

THERE'S A LINE a mile long at the hiring office, but the company is still spending time and money advertising for help. That's the political farce now on display at the County Office Building in Westminster, where the Carroll commissioners are seeking assorted persons (presumably nine in number) to write a charter government document for voter referendum next year.

This tragicomic production dramatically illustrates the need for Carroll County to quickly adopt charter home rule (with a single elected executive and a representative council) and abandon the commissioner system.

One commissioner wants to appoint only opponents of charter to the drafting panel. Another wants a mix of advocates and opponents. A third wants supporters of charter.

There seems to be no recognition that nearly 6,000 of the county's voters signed a petition calling for a charter referendum. And no political accountability under the three-headed commissioner system for them to do so.

Charter-petition organizers presented a list of 24 people who are competent and willing to serve on the drafting committee. That list should at least produce the core of the committee. Others with expertise and experience certainly could be appointed. But the consensus of the draft committee should be to produce a practical, effective charter for electoral consideration, not a jerry-built compromise contraption that is foredoomed to defeat.

Of course, Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates want the charter to fail, just as did the defective charter document presented to Carroll voters in the 1992 referendum. They have the power to sabotage the will of the petitioners, denying voters the right to an honest choice of government in the election. Sadly, the two men indicate they will do just that.

A call for volunteers to serve on the draft panel is not out of order. But the open refusal to appoint a panel that is genuinely motivated to produce a good, attractive document is defiantly contrary to the public interest.

Messrs. Dell and Yates last year denied a request by eight town mayors to form a charter draft panel, requiring a petition to show public support. Now that support has been amply demonstrated. They should gracefully, responsibly give charter supporters a fair chance.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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