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Table-Topping, Council Style

On July 31, the Howard County Council had a legislative session before going on their August recess. At the beginning of this session, they gave an award to Susan Garber and other community leaders for collaborating with the Howard County Police Dept. to create National Night Out. Then, the Council proceeded to their legislative session where they took the nomination of Susan Garber to the Planning Board off the table, and voted her down.

Greg Fox and Jen Terrasa voted yes to confirm her. There was no reason given for the no votes from Calvin Ball and Mary Kay Sigaty. Earlier Jon Weinstein had stated that the criteria for appointees was not only reviewing their qualifications in their resumes, but they also needed to be able to collaborate and work with the existing Board. Weinstein voted last on Garber’s nomination, and was the deciding vote at the end. Right before his vote, Weinstein said that his prior comments on criteria made him have to say NO.

So, per Jon Weinstein, the Council now will label people as unable to collaborate or work with existing Boards. Really? Given that the Council gave Garber an award for collaboration, then voted no saying she can't collaborate, begs the question, “What does the Council really mean by collaboration?” It sounds like the Council defines collaboration as a nominee who will think and vote just like the people already on the Board.

In the past, Garber has questioned the Planning Board’s approval of certain projects. Garber would have replaced Josh Tzuker, who the Council prefers politically. A yes vote for Garber would have been saying yes to fresh and diverse opinions. I guess that doesn’t align with the Council’s view of “collaboration.”

The bottom line is that the Council is thwarting County Executive's Kittleman's attempts to fulfill his campaign promise to put more civic leaders on Boards, and their latest tactic is to label the person as unable to work with the existing Board. Hey Council - giving different types of people a say on these Boards is the very goal here! Appointing more like-minded people is obviously not desired. If there is a lack of a type of person on a Board that needs filling, it is completely inappropriate to label someone as not collaborative simply because they disagree with your opinions or your politics. We need to loudly claim this is unacceptable.

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