Crunch Time for Council
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017

January 16, 2015 1:28 am ET

Crandell faces tough choice as February approval vote for Homan and Johnson nears

Source: Crunch Time for Council

You could say that a “day of reckoning” is approaching for members of the Baltimore County Council as they prepare to vote on the confirmation of Kamenetz administration cabinet members.

This, folks, is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. The vote will take place on February 2, so there is precious little time left to think about these cabinet positions and the people who fill them.

As the second term of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz gets into full swing, he has made it clear that he wants to maintain the status quo and retain all of his previous (I won’t say old) appointees. These include the Chief of Police and County Administrator, or—as we know them—Mr. Fred (Office of Fred) Homan and Police Chief Jim Johnson. The other cabinet members are lesser knowns that won’t rock the proverbial boat, as they say. But for anyone who reads this blog or the Sun, the two names I just mentioned are infamous in the annals of politics.

I mean, Mr. Homan’s faux paus are well documented, and Chief Johnson has been at the center of a legal controversy over his residency requirement.

This puts Chief Johnson in a different position, though. The State Police Superintendent, Marcus Brown, announced his plans to leave that post. He too was said to be living out of his required residency area, as a WBAL I Team investigation revealed him to be living in Pennsylvania.

The quandary for Johnson is that the newly elected Republicans, including soon-to-be-Gov. Hogan, have highlighted the corrupt “pay-for-play” scheme of Gov. Martin O’Malley. That might just be the impetus to look into the Johnson issue.

What I find interesting is that Chief Johnson states we are as safe then and now as we were back in the 1970s, yet the county’s current website on crime trends omits any reference to the homicide rates. If that is the case, then we are safer then and now then anytime in the history of Baltimore County; NOT!

Now here is where it gets to be a bit of a “sticky wicket,” as the Brits say. If you have to ask why, look at the top of the page and check the current temperature, because this vote will be a hot button issue with some prominent council members.

How prominent? I think this could be a deal breaker, a road to broken dreams, or Sunset Boulevard!

Here’s the deal. The rumor mill says the Council Chairwoman, Cathy Bevins, has aspirations of being the next County Executive. But there are some bumps in the road for Mrs. Bevins, like her connections to development attorney and former County Executive Jim Smith.

In addition, there was the controversy in the last campaign over the Jeff Beard incident in which Mrs. Bevins sent out a mailer over some of Mr. Beard’s legal issues. But I won’t rehash all of that.

In all honesty, Mrs. Bevins has made some important positive decisions in my humble opinion. She is the sponsor of a bill that would eliminate the penalty for widows of police officers killed in the line of duty if they remarry.

Mrs. Bevins is the only councilperson to respond in a timely manner which in today’s political world is a plus.

A wrong vote by Mrs. Bevins on these confirmations could haunt her in what I believe will be a hotly contested county executive race. One needs to distant themselves from the ’political machine,’ or get caught up in the rust of the grinding gears of that old clunker.

Meanwhile, Councilman David Marks—one of three Republicans on the council—is also facing the rubber stamp issue. In his first term, I considered him to be a maverick and demonstrating potential for a run at County Executive. However, his recent efforts to grant developers exemptions from certain legal requirements, as well as his push to build Towson into an urban metropolis with a college town atmosphere, has angered many constituents according to the Sun.

And those constituents should be angry, as crime is up by 4.1% in Towson.

Mr. Marks also has a cozy relationship with Jim Smith, as revealed in documents I obtained through a PIA. Just an FYI, I’m checking into the campaign finance records now regarding the money issue.

Mr. Marks is now noted for being the councilman that does Mr. Kamenetz’s bidding. Not exactly a building block for a run at the top spot.

Now we come to the newly elected Republican, Todd Crandell, whose campaign focused on his opposition to the sale of the Government Center. That puts him on a collision path for confirming Mr. Homan as County Administrator, since the latter is a strong advocate of selling the center despite the potential loss of millions of taxpayer dollars.

One indication of which way Mr. Crandell’s vote may go is his ties to fellow Republican David Marks. Mr. Crandell voted yea on Mr. Marks’ special exemptions for developers in the urbanization of the Towson area, and Mr. Crandell’s chief of staff is a former member of the Marks campaign staff.

My suggestion is for Councilman Crandell is to vote “nay” on Mr. Homan and another four years of the taxpayers being fleeced. A yea vote on the Homan confirmation would, in my assessment, amount to political suicide.

You just don’t vote for a man who was a major roadblock to your promised campaign agenda. The voters outnumber the council by a fair number.

That, in a nutshell, is the importance of the Council’s dilemma on the confirmation vote that Mr. Kamenetz hopes will keep the “good ol’ boys club” in the status quo.

Just a few months ago, we were thinking that the times were changing. Let’s hope that change continues when it really counts.

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