Village unsure of response on Hlass

Center's ban of CA official not on Long Reach agenda

He denies claims of harassment

Columbia

August 19, 2004|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The head of the Long Reach Village Board said yesterday that he is unsure when, or if, the panel will discuss the banning of its Columbia Council representative from the village shopping center.

Board Chairman William A. Taylor had said the board, which can start the process to recall a council representative, would be conferring about David Hlass' yearlong ban from the shopping center.

But the board did not discuss the matter at its meeting this month and has not placed it on the agenda for next month.

"I'm not clear as to whether it will come up again," said Taylor, who would not elaborate on why the board might not address the issue.

Perrine & Wheeler Real Estate Investments, which manages the center, banned Hlass from the shopping center June 7, accusing him of harassing and threatening employees of the company. Hlass had been complaining about Perrine & Wheeler's management of the center, which it bought in February.

Perrine & Wheeler claimed that Hlass verbally accosted company employees while acting as a representative for tenants to address problems that the company characterized as nonexistent.

Hlass, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has disputed the allegations and called the ban "retaliation" for trying to make the company attend to heating, air-conditioning and plumbing maintenance problems at some of the center's offices.

Taylor said the allegations against Hlass "greatly alarm" him if they are true.

The Long Reach Village Board, the village manager or 25 percent of the village's 5,700 households can call for a special meeting at which voters could decide to recall a council representative. Fifty eligible voters would have to be present to validate the meeting.

If voters recall the council member - which has never been done - the village board would appoint someone to take his place.

Hlass, a 50-year-old retired military officer and pilot, is in the middle of a two-year term that expires in April.

The 10-member council also acts as the Columbia Association board of directors, which has the authority to remove a board member with a two-thirds vote.

Columbia Council Chairman Joshua Feldmark said yesterday that the decision of whether a member remains on the council lies with the village.

"I always said that I would yield to whatever decision they made," he said. "We will deal with the consequences if they decide to go forward or if they don't."

Howard County Councilman David A. Rakes, an east Columbia Democrat, said recalling a Columbia Council member would be "unprecedented" and was pleased that the process to start a recall may not happen.

"I think the best thing is for cool heads to prevail and to work this out without engaging in a recall," he said.

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