Opposition to Harford County legislation regarding department heads, zoning appeals [letter to The Aegis]

June 10, 2014|Letter to The Aegis

The following was sent to Harford County Council President Billy Boniface. A copy was provided for publication.

At the June 04, 2014 regular membership meeting of the New Harford Democratic Club, Bills 14-21 and 14-18 were studied and discussed. By a unanimous vote, we agreed to oppose the passages of both of these ordinances.

Bill 14-21 is a seriously misguided and ham-handed attempt to eliminate the rights of citizens and communities to access their elected officials and seek redress on zoning issues. This bill would make Harford County the ONLY county without an appeals board and moves the process directly to the Circuit Court. This effectively means only the wealthy will be able to seek relief from the decisions of the Hearing Examiner. By this legislation the County Council abdicates the responsibilities they were elected to fulfill. This action reminds us of the old saying, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Bill 14-18 to make deputy directors of County departments subject to political appointments seeks to return our County government to the old spoils system. What is the true impetus for this bill? And what is wrong with our current civil service system? There are a sufficient number of appointed positions within County government to allow the next and subsequent County Executive to appoint manager of their choice. Deputy Directors should not feel threatened with expulsion every four years nor should we sacrifice the stability and knowledge they provide for smooth county operations.

We urge you to reconsider and defeat Bill 14-21 rather than placing it on the November ballot. Since the council already has approved Bill 14-18 and it will be placed on the ballot for voter approval, the New Harford Democratic Club will be urging voters to reject this ill-conceived proposed charter amendment.

Ann C. Helton, President

New Harford Democratic Club

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