County Com­mis­sion­ers at odds over rule changes

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

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The Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers are look­ing to make changes to their rules of pro­ce­dure, and among the changes amended in the county’s pro­ce­dures is adding re­quested items to the com­mis­sioner meet­ing agenda each week.

Dur­ing the county com­mis­sioner’s March 22 meet­ing, the com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved their new rules of pro­ce­dure in an ef­fort to stream­line the agenda re­quest process.

As it stands, Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) said, if any­one wants to get on the agenda, they must make an agenda re­quest and then the agenda must be voted on by county com­mis­sion­ers to be in­cluded.

Af­ter the changes to the rules and pro­ce­dures, the process will be “stream­lined,” Mur­phy said, with County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Michael Malli­noff set­ting “most of the agenda.”

Mur­phy will no longer have to rec­om­mend re­quests to the agenda, but they still have to meet his ap­proval, he said.

If a re­quest comes through from a depart­ment or an­other com­mis­sioner that could po­ten­tially turn into a pol­icy, the board of com­mis­sion­ers will be able to dis­cuss what the pol­icy is and be in­tro­duced to it be­fore it is ap­proved by Mur­phy, he said.

“In that case, I do think it is ap­pro­pri­ate that that comes be­fore the board,” Mur­phy said. “We would still fol­low the same pro­ce­dure that we would meet weekly on this.”

The process would be stream­lined, but Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent De­bra Davis (D) voted in op­po­si­tion to the changes. There was not enough time for county com­mis­sion­ers to take in the changes, she said, and she does not want to ap­prove some­thing she does not have in­for­ma­tion on.

The re­vised doc­u­ment on the county’s rules of pro­ce­dures is 10 pages long with amend­ments. The item was ap­proved and in­cluded when the agenda was posted on March 17, how­ever, the amended rules of pro­ce­dures doc­u­ment was not fully amended in the county’s Board Docs por­tal un­til Mon­day morn­ing ac­cord­ing to county com­mis­sioner clerk Danielle Mitchell.

“I can’t imag­ine how any of us are ready to vote on this,” Davis said.

Mur­phy said de­cid­ing to ap­prove the res­o­lu­tion mak­ing the amend­ments of­fi­cial helps with their gov­ern­ment process im­me­di­ately and does not re­quire depart­ment heads wait­ing “30 min­utes to an hour” just to ap­prove agenda re­quests.

It is an im­por­tant change be­cause “it al­lows them to be back in their of­fices do­ing what they need to do,” Mur­phy said.

But Davis said these are very im­por­tant changes be­ing made to the rules of pro­ce­dure and need to be looked at throughly.

“I don’t see what the ur­gency is,” Davis said.

Davis said she also be­lieves the county may have vi­o­lated their own cur­rent rules and pro­ce­dures by not hav­ing the fully amended text up on Board Docs by the pre­vi­ous Thurs­day.

How­ever, Mur­phy said, ev­ery com­mis­sioner had an op­por­tu­nity to read the doc­u­ment with the amend­ments on Mon­day prior to the meet­ing. And dur­ing the meet­ing, Mur­phy said, all amend­ments were dis­cussed.

Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) said the agenda item was listed on Thurs­day. And, be­sides, he said “it’s not that long a doc­u­ment.”

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