ANGRY CITIZENS of Baltimore County have told County Council members what they think of the closed-door, self-interest redistricting proposal gerrymandered by a majority of the incumbents.
Complaints at a belated hearing Monday night focused on calculated splitting of established communities (including the county seat of Towson) and on efforts to create a district that could favor election of a racial-minority member to the seven-seat council.
But the loudest, unifying subject of protest has been the lack of public input and democratic process in redrawing the councilmanic districts.
Sadly, there is nothing to force the five councilmen to alter a single line. It is all legal and according to county charter.
Baltimore County's charter does not require citizen input or full council participation to draft a plan. The county executive doesn't have veto power over the plan.
Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties appoint citizen commissions to redraw lines according to census figures; Harford and Howard county executives can veto a redistricting plan approved by the County Council.
And unlike recent Baltimore County controversies over land condemnation and the detention center expansion, the voter redistricting map is not subject to public referendum.
Federal legal deadlines force the county to move promptly in drawing new council boundaries. But that's a flimsy excuse for council members, who could well have solicited advance public input and did not.
A top priority of the next council must be revising the county charter to provide for open, advance public participation and deliberation by all council members.
Too bad there's no charter amendment that can force council members to act in the public interest instead of their self-interest.