President's Message

Reviewing Baltimore County’s Charter

At our February meeting, we heard Councilman Wade Kach speak out about the Charter Review Commission. Councilman Kach’s complaint was that too many of the Review Commission’s members were lobbyists-lawyers who regularly represent clients on land use decisions. In fact, four of the ten members of the Commission fit the description of lobbyist according to the councilman.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with some representation from land use attorneys on the Charter Review Commission, but having four of the ten members involved in land use matters certainly seems like an oversized number. Where was a representative from the League of Women Voters or similar such non-partisan organization? There was only one academic appointed to the commission, but we have a variety of great colleges and universities in this county. And why no members from the civic associations throughout the county?

The Charter Review Commission has already held three internal meetings, and the first of at least three public meetings will be held in Perry Hall on April 5. The Charter is a relatively brief, fifty-two-page document that lays out the general framework for our local government. It sets the broad framework for the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as budgetary and fiscal procedures, general ethics matters and the merit system for employees. Because it is a broad framework for these subjects, the County Code sets forth specific regulations, and the Code is not part of this Review Commission’s agenda.

Should the average citizen be concerned about this charter review? Well that is open to debate. For example, the last Charter Review Commission recommended that the County be divided into eleven council districts, but that recommendation failed to be adopted. Would the average citizen want a smaller council district, with the likelihood of more attention paid by the councilperson? You be the judge! At our next GTCC meeting we will talk about a few of these issues concerning the current Charter, and whether some changes need to be instituted. I hope you can attend and give me your thoughts.

Eric Rockel, President