(Publishers note: The Baltimore Post will grant equal space to any Baltimore County elected official regarding this column.)
In our last column, The Baltimore Post raised some serious questions regarding the operation of the Baltimore County Government during this time of a national emergency as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
That column apparently ruffled some feathers, as the saying goes.
The Post received quite a bit of criticism from elected officials afterward, and we believe that deserves an in-depth response. In order to gain a proper perspective on our response, it is important that you read our first article dealing with this issue. This will set the tone for our response.
Because there are several complex issues that must be addressed, our response will span more than one column.
In this series, we will respond to:
- Questions raised by Justin Silberman, Senior Legislative Aide to Councilman Izzy Patoka, who represents the Second District;
- Statements made by Council Charwoman Cathy Bevins from the Sixth District;
- and Councilman Wade Kach from the Third District, who informed us that Bill 20-20 had been pulled prior to the publication of our original column.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get to it!
Folks, this whole issue centers on transparency. The Baltimore Post was alerted to pending legislation (Bill 20-20) by community leaders. Our sources received a letter from an attorney describing the council’s intentions to limit public input through the bill, which would give government bureaucrats more authority.
You can read the contents of the letter in the following PDF file. (Note: The Post attempted to contact the law firm several times without success; therefore, we redacted certain information.)
Please click on the image below to view the entire document
We want to begin by taking a look at the proverbial “cookie jar.” Specifically, we’ll be dealing with comments left on the Baltimore Post Facebook page.
Normally, when legislation is submitted, the sponsors of the bill are listed at the top of the page. For example, a council member who submits a bill at the request of the county executive. Or several councilpersons banding together to request specific legislation.
In the case of Bill 20-20, this legislation was submitted at the behest of every council member.
We are living in unprecedented times, for both Baltimore County and the United States as a whole. Due to the pandemic, much of our nation’s business is now conducted remotely via telecommunications.
That’s a complicated way to run a government, folks. Despite our advances in technology, it is far from smooth and efficient.
With that said, our column was meant to question our elected officials and how they serve their constituents.
Much of the criticism we received asked why we were not aware that Bill 20-20 was withdrawn prior to publication of our column.
Mr. Silberman specifically wanted to know why the Post didn’t contact Councilman Patoka’s office. Had the bill been submitted by Councilman Patoka, we would have made that phone call.
In this particular matter, that’s not how the deck chips were stacked.
Because Bill 20-20 was submitted by all council members, protocol suggests that we call the main phone number for the Baltimore County Council: 410-887-3196.
Which we did. That was when we heard a voicemail message that, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we should leave a message and wait for a reply.
Which we did.
For whatever reason, our message still has not been answered. Had someone done their due diligence and responded to our request, we never would have published our column on Bill-2020.
Mr. Silberman felt that it was our duty to contact Councilman Patoka’s office to discuss the bill. However, we believe that goes against the practice of getting an accurate and cohesive response in which the council speaks with one voice.
In part two of this series, we will look at our history of numerous attempts to contact council members, most of which failed. We will also address Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins’ claim that the Baltimore County is transparent.
Stay tuned, folks. We’re just getting warmed up over here.
Also, please do your best to stay safe and healthy.