Bickering among charter board members is stalling the momentum to get a proposal for a change in Carroll County government on the ballot this year.
The nine-member board devoted eight months to writing a document that would give Carroll an executive and county council instead of three commissioners.
Now, members are at odds, and the schedule for handing the document to the County Commissioners is uncertain. The commissioners have 120 days from receipt of the proposal to schedule a vote.
The Institute for Governmental Service has reviewed the proposal and recommended minor changes, primarily in wording.
The board had planned to discuss the changes and do final editing Thursday, before endorsing the document. But it did not complete its work and scheduled another meeting for next Thursday.
A dispute between Chairwoman Carmen Amedori and Vice Chairman Christopher Nevin delayed the session for more than 20 minutes and set the tone for what became an uneasy meeting.
"It may take us longer to review what we wrote than it took to write it," one board member said.
Included in the the institute's review was a recommendation that the board consult the county attorney and financial officials.
Instead of waiting for the board meeting, Nevin, who had written the draft along with member Jack A. Gullo Jr., asked for and received those official comments. Nevin prepared copies of the responses for the board.
"I thought it was a reasonable and prudent course to take," said Nevin, mayor of Hampstead. "I was glad these men took the time to comment. They offered sound suggestions that we should consider. Overall, none of it is difficult to do."
Several board members agreed with Nevin's decision to proceed. Gullo said he was eager to have more comments to review.
Nevin was merely responding to the institute's request, Ragen Cherney said.
"Nevin followed what the IGS said we should do," Ann Ballard said.
But Amedori angrily objected to an action taken without the board's consent.
"Has this become the Jay Gullo and Chris Nevin charter board?" she asked. "It was unprofessional to go outside the board and get written critiques before we had looked at the review."
Gullo said the bickering was a waste of time. He urged the board to begin its review of the recommendations that they had had for several days prior to the meeting.
"I spent hours going over the recommendations and am prepared to discuss them," said Gullo, the mayor of New Windsor.
Amedori wanted the board to meet with Patricia Mastsko, director of the county elections board, before making a final decision on voting districts, which are based on the most recent census. When she was outvoted, she said she was disappointed in her colleagues' haste and again referred to Nevin's "unilateral decision."
"Stop editorializing," Cherney said to the chairwoman. "You are out of order."
Much of the draft text came from the 1992 charter proposal that was rejected at the polls.
Neal Powell, serving on his second charter board this decade, said any more work on the five districts proposed in the draft was "very unnecessary" because much work was devoted to establishing those districts in the 1992 charter.
The institute's 10-page review was often a question of semantics, easily amended in the draft. Gullo frequently suggested corrections in the wording.
"We have had discussion on every issue, followed by a vote," Gullo said. "We can move along quickly."
"Why are you rushing?" asked Romeo Valianti, who is chairman of the Carroll County Liquor Board. "Is this the way you run New Windsor?"
"You are dragging your feet," Gullo replied. "Is that how you operate the liquor board?"
Nevin said he hoped the next meeting would be the final one. But, he said, given the board's makeup, he is unsure it can accomplish anything in a timely manner.
"We should move forward in as reasonable a manner as possible," Nevin said. "Grandstanding is not a productive use of anyone's time."
The board will reconvene at 7: 30 p.m. Thursday at Carroll Community College.
Pub Date: 2/01/98