Editorial: Reject Question B

October 25, 2012|EDITORIAL FROM THE AEGIS

Among seven proposed amendments to the Harford County Charter that will be on this year's election ballot for county voters to approve, Question B is one that should be overwhelmingly rejected.

If approved, Question B would allow "county council members after they leave office to apply for employment with the Harford County Government."

As the charter reads, and as it has since its adoption in 1972, council members can't accept any paid county position for two years after their council term ends.

The rationale for imposing this employment ban should be pretty obvious. There's all kinds of nefarious ways a county council member could use his or her influence for personal gain at the public's expense to line up a job on the public payroll. The two-year cooling off period discourages such shenanigans.

We're still at a loss to understand why, after all these years, there is suddenly a compelling need to rewrite this particular section of the charter.

The citizen board the county council appointed earlier this year to review the charter and suggest amendments did not propose Question B. It was discussed, briefly, according to earlier interviews, with some board members, but never got any further.

One of the county council members, Jim McMahan, introduced the amendment on his own initiative, and his explanation of why it is needed is patently lame: Other counties don't do it, so why should Harford?

Joe Kochenderfer, a longtime public servant in Havre de Grace, was on the right track when he said during a recent city council meeting that the Question B amendment would veer too close to "self-promotion and nepotism."

In other words, somebody on the current county council wants a job before 2016. And we suggest Harford County voters say that can't happen by voting NO to Question B.

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