Last drink for the council Howard County: Lawmakers are rushing to appoint new liquor board before their own terms expire.

September 28, 1998

THAT TRAIN rushing the appointment of Howard County's new liquor board hasn't slowed a bit. Council members have submitted their recommendations to County Executive Charles I. Ecker. He has selected five nominees and placed their names before the council for a final rubber-stamp vote next month. The rush is on to get the board named before this council exits the scene. It shouldn't happen this way. Three current council members are lame ducks.

Why won't the outgoing council they allow the body that will be elected in November to decide who should be on the liquor board? It is a last gasp by this council, which this year finally -- and rightly -- agreed to stop serving as the county's liquor board in favor of a separate, appointed panel.

The first liquor board members will serve staggered terms. The appointee recommended by 5th District Councilman Charles C. Feaga will serve the longest -- five years. But Mr. Feaga won't be on the council because he was defeated in the GOP primary for county executive. The primary winner was 3rd District Councilman Dennis R. Schrader, another lame duck. Mr.

Schrader's appointee will serve three years. Republican 1st District Councilman Darrel E. Drown did not seek re-election. His appointee will serve a year.

Democrats Mary C. Lorsung (4th District) and C. Vernon Gray (2nd) argued against the rushed appointments. Their nominees will serve four years and two years, respectively. All future board appointees will serve five-year terms.

Creation of the liquor board was flawed in that the legislature left the real power with the council, which can still veto any board decision. If the incoming council could choose the liquor board's members, it might give that panel the legislative authority to make independent decisions. History shows politicians looking for campaign money and barkeeps looking for a liquor license are a bad mix.

Pub Date: 9/28/98

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