December 4, 2015 2:50 pm ET
Will Councilman Crandell delay vote on SPT at communities’ request, or will he get the bill passed anyway?
Councilman Todd Crandell and Chairwoman Cathy Bevins are key players in this bill.
In a previous blog, I mentioned keeping an eye on the Sparrow, which was both a play on the TV show “Baretta” theme song and a reference to the Sparrows Point Terminal (SPT) property development.
Needless to say, things are starting to have just as much (if not more) drama than Robert Blake’s television program.
Some of the most influential community groups on the east side of Baltimore County—including the Essex Middle River Civic Council (EMRCC), an umbrella group of other community organizations; the North Point Peninsula Community Council; and the Fort Howard Community Association—are requesting that Councilman Todd Crandell delay the Monday, December 7 vote on his proposed legislation, Bill 86-15.
As you may recall, the bill omits any community input or government oversight that deals with the SPT and allows for no vetting of the development process as outlined in the County Code under 32-4-106.
The website for the EMRCC reads as follows:
As you may know, the Essex Middle River Civic Council is an umbrella group of Community Associations, and has been in existence for over fifty years. The Council focuses on issues of area-wide and multi-community significance.
During these many decades, the council has become a very well respected organization and has been a strong voice for our communities. The council has represented our communities to the local government in Towson, the state government in Annapolis and on some occasions even to our federally elected officials in Washington D. C.
I’m quite sure that is not what Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger wanted to hear after publishing his letter of praise for Mr. Crandell’s bill, despite the issue of toxic waste on the site as reported in the Baltimore Sun.
Congressman Ruppersberger even stated that a day care center could be built on the property. Imagine that—glowing children, and not in a good way!
The Fort Howard Community Association allied with the EMRCC in support of delaying the Monday night vote until the bill can be properly vetted.
Regarding the North Point Peninsula Community Council, Mr. Fran Taylor—a community activist and former vice president of the group—was elected president, and one of the first orders of business was whether or not the council would stand with the other community groups in asking for the delayed vote of Mr. Crandell’s bill.
After some consultation with the membership, Mr. Taylor approved a unanimous decision to request that Councilman Crandell table bill 86-15 until the community has been made fully aware of the various aspects of the controversial legislation.
With all of that said, here is how the matter could go down, folks.
After Mr. Crandell is notified that the community wishes more time to review his bill before the Monday night vote, he could approach the county secretary and ask that his bill be withdrawn.
However, if Councilman Crandell wants to play politics (behind closed doors), he could tell the community that he will ask the council to table his bill in the same manner as a request to table then Councilman John Olszewski’s bill on the government center. If you will remember, the council simply voted down that request, and the bill moved forward, creating a setback for the community opposition to the bill.
If Mr. Crandell withdraws his bill, there is no vote and, therefore, no danger that the council could override his desire to table the bill.
If not, Councilman Crandell can look like a winner and say that he tried, but he was overruled by the council, which denied the request for the bill to be tabled and voted on it.
So, now we get to see if the Councilman will step up and do the bidding of his constituents, or if he will simply appear to placate the various community groups while ensuring that the council could pass the bill.
The only way to ensure the bill and the request to table it does not go before the council is to withdraw it, which Councilman Crandell has the authority to do. This would ensure the communities’ wishes are heard and acted upon by their elected representative, whose job it is to act on behalf of the people and not the SPT.
I am making this known in order to fire a warning shot across the bow of the political shenanigans that often go on behind closed doors.
The bottom line is that Mr. Crandell can’t have it both ways by planning to act on behalf of his constituents all the while knowing the council will veto his bid to table the bill and pass it, thus shutting out any community input or review.
The bottom line, folks, is the politics of the situation. The question remains just how clean Mr. Crandell will play in the political game.
We shall see, but at least you can be prepared since you know “the rest of the story.” To me, it would be foolish for Mr. Crandell to play it any other way than straight and to have the bill withdrawn to avoid any potential for political shenanigans.
I remember the time when Mr. Quirk’s PUD was voted down and, all of a sudden, Councilman John Oleszewski brought it back to life saying they did not have enough time to review the PUD. Shortly thereafter, the council—which at first voted against the PUD—suddenly voted for it.
It was a sad day for constituents.
Monday night we will see whether the constituents triumph over the politically connected developer or the status quo dictates business as usual.
One has to wonder why Councilwoman Bevins would push her bill when more than 60,000 registered voters signed a petition against it.
If Mr. Crandell follows the same path, he will seriously jeopardize the trust that his constituents have placed in him.
On an ending note, some of you may find this interesting—I called the council secretary to find out the correct protocol in my assessment of how this process could go down. I was put on hold and then told that someone would get back to me. I then asked if that someone had my phone number. The answer was no, to which I responded, “How are you going to get back to me when you don’t know who I am or how to reach me?”
Like I said, folks. It’s all politics. Where there is smoke there is fire, as the saying goes, and I think this just lit the match.
Monday night should be an interesting night to say the least.
Anyone that hears a phone ring and it’s the council secretary calling me back let me know.
Turn up your dial tones and stayed tuned.