Impolite council

September 27, 1997

RAISED VOICES, bared fists, name-calling -- just another meeting of the Baltimore City Council. Such storminess has happened often enough in recent years for Council President Lawrence A. Bell III to issue a code of conduct for members. Good for him.

Perhaps the council will be more passive since its meetings apparently will no longer be televised on cable TV, that city department having succumbed to the budget ax. But Mr. Bell is taking no chances. Among other things, he is ordering these elected officials to refrain from impugning the character of other members, refer to one another only as ''council person'' or ''colleague,'' and to sit down and be quiet when the president is trying to speak.

It is expected that council members will sometimes get excited when trying to make a point. But the public expects them, as leaders of the city, to set an example for decorum that is in keeping with the office they hold. Now if Mr. Bell really wants to improve the council environment, he could propose reducing the archaic 19-member legislative body to a more manageable and less expensive number.

Pub Date: 9/27/97

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