– Editorial –
There was one brief moment – like a faint signal from a distant planet – when the concerns of Baltimore County citizens appeared to penetrate the alternate reality that is the Baltimore County Council.
Outraged residents of Jacksonville appeared before the council last night to protest a county animal shelter in their neighborhood. The county had apparently expanded the shelter without any regard to the community, subjecting nearby residents to a night and day chorus of howling and barking dogs.
To make their point, one resident prepared a 3 minute video of what he and his neighbors were dealing with. The resident propped up a laptop in front of the council and, when he hit the start button, the council chambers were flooded with the sounds of barking dogs.
But almost as quickly as this reality arrived, it was silenced. Councilman Julian Jones ordered that the video be turned off because the barking noise was so obnoxious. Angry members of the audience shouted back that, if they had to listen to this day in and day out, the council could listen to it for another minute. It was to no avail. The video was silenced.
That brief moment was a perfect metaphor for the way this council operates.
Thanks to our reporter Ann Costantino, we now know that Councilman David Marks was allegedly threatened by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and his sidekick, Caves Valley Partners. It is obvious that the integrity of council deliberations must not be undermined by backroom threats. Yet, what did Council Chairman Tom Quirk or any other council member have to say about this assault on the legislative process? Nothing.
The county’s own records strongly suggest that county money was misappropriated by Fred Homan, the county administrator, to help Caves Valley Partners prepare a piece of land for development. Did the council last night authorize an investigation to see if this is indeed the case and to check if any other county money was misappropriated. No.
The Jacksonville delegation described how Homan simply ignored their requests to meet with them or provided them with public documents. This is exactly the same behavior the Baltimore Post has reported on.
Reporters are locked out of county buildings and county officials hide in their offices rather than explain their actions. Did the council spend last night discussing whether they should compel Homan and Kamenetz to appear before the council to explain why county business is being conducted this way. Not a chance.
Councilman Wade Kach issued a statement a few days ago declaring that the county government was “out of control.” Did he explain to his fellow council members last night what he thought was wrong and what should be done to get the government back on track? Crickets.
There is an old Roman saying “Qui tacet consentit.” It means “Silence Gives Consent.” and that is what is so disturbing about what happened last night. Week after week this council is presented with example after example of a government that is out of control and, as last night so amply proved, they say and do nothing.
It’s not much of a solution, but perhaps we could ask the residents of Jacksonville for seven of their loudest dogs to run for county council. True, they probably wouldn’t get any more done than the current council. But at least they would not be silent.