Board targets McCarty backer

Long Reach panel starts process to recall councilwoman

March 22, 2000|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

One of Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty's staunchest defenders on the Columbia Council came under fire last night as the Long Reach Village Board voted to pursue a proposal that would allow the councilwoman to be recalled.

The proposal, which provides for the recall of the Long Reach council representative, Cecilia Januszkiewicz, will be put to residents next month during village elections.

The question on the April 15 ballot will not be whether Januszkiewicz should be recalled, but whether village bylaws and articles of incorporation should be amended to provide for that option.

There is currently no mechanism for removing the Long Reach council representative, which village board member Rudy Baker last night called a "deficiency."

In a prepared statement, Januszkiewicz called the proposal "dangerous," "disturbing" and "repugnant," and said it would ensure that Long Reach's council representative would not be independent, but rather a "puppet of the village board."

Under the proposed bylaw changes, if residents voted in a special election to recall their representative, the village board would then appoint a replacement to the council for the rest of the unexpired term. Januszkiewicz is not up for re-election this year.

Januszkiewicz said the proposed changes are motivated by "personal animosity" on the part of the village board chairman, Henry Dagenais, and the board vice chairman, John Snyder.

"The proposal for permitting recall is a self-serving power grab by the village board," she said.

Last night's action by the village board comes as the Columbia Council and the community are in the midst of a divisive debate about McCarty's leadership and com mitment.

Two council members, Earl Jones of Oakland Mills and Kirk Halpin of Kings Contrivance, have called for McCarty to step down. The controversy surrounding the Columbia Association president, which has been brewing for more than a month, exploded after McCarty told her six vice presidents to submit resignation letters.

An unwavering McCarty supporter, Januszkiewicz has said that the president is committed to Columbia, and that McCarty's critics have launched a personal "attack" planned to coincide with her leave of absence. She has also said the recent controversy has been about "change and resistance to change."

Januszkiewicz said the proposed changes to Long Reach's bylaws would circumvent the process by which residents elect their representative.

"I am surprised that no one sees the danger of this proposal for the long-term effectiveness of the Long Reach council representative," she wrote to village board members before the meeting.

"Policy should never be made on the basis of personal animosity." Januszkiewicz's relationship with the village board has been strained since a dispute last year over the voting requirements for tenants. Last night's discussion grew heated at times.

Another proposal to provide for the removal of the Long Reach council representative as a nonvoting village board member also will be on the April ballot. If the proposed bylaw changes are adopted, removal would be for nonattendance of meetings.

Januszkiewicz stopped attending village board meetings between October and February, she said, because Dagenais and Snyder made it clear that "neither my presence nor my viewpoint were welcome."

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