ECStrong, Not in the Council Resolution

As Howard County and Ellicott City repeat the recovery from a flood, the County Council is poised to repeat the mistake it made in 2016 with the resolution to extend the State of Emergency.  RESOLUTION NO. 84 – 2018 is entitled “A RESOLUTION extending the State of Emergency declared by Executive Order issued on May 27, 2018, which related to a severe flooding event.” The resolution begins “WHEREAS, the County Executive issued Executive Order 2018-07 on May 27, 2018, related to a severe flooding event that occurred on May 27, 2018.”

Eveyone in the County knows it was a flood in Ellicott City. The local news refers to it as a flood in “Ellicott City.” The national and international news are referring to “Ellicott City.” Ironically, the one place where “Ellicott City” is not referenced is in the formal resolution of the County County Council. It is not just an amorphous “severe flooding event;” it was a flood in “Ellicott City.” Nowhere in the resolution are the words “Ellicott City” used. The people of Ellicott City deserve to be named, the same way that Eddison Hermond deserves to be named and not referred to as “that heroic army guy.”

In addition, the Council is giving the County Executive extraordinary powers and these powers should be restricted to those parts of the County impacted by the flood where the health, safety and welfare require access controls to pedestrians and vehicles.

The Council should amend the bill to put “historic Ellicott City” in the title and refer to “a severe flooding event in historic Ellicott City that occurred on May 27, 2018.”




Should Kittleman Be on Absentee Ballot Links?

In recent weeks, several people have posted Howard County’s link for absentee voting. The link, like most, from the Howard County website, comes with the smiling, arm-crossed photo of County Executive Alan Kittleman.


Is it inappropriate for a partisan candidate to be attached to a non-partisan voter link even though this is the default photo when posting a link to Howard County? Is this just the power of incumbency or should Howard County and Executive Kittleman edit the webpage so that it is truly a non-partisan link?















Campaign Materials of HoCo Candidates Omit the Required Authority Line

The candidates running for the Howard County Council and the Howard County School Board are asking the public to put their trust in them. They are asking the public to let them determine where to spend $1 billion budgets. Yet, dealing with the issues on the Council or School Board are complicated and often legalistic. There are often complicated laws, rules and regulations which must be followed. This takes reading and research.

Some of the Howard County candidates are violating the state laws on authority lines on campaign materials and webpages. One candidate has experience with prior campaigns while the others are naive freshman candidates for the Council and School Board. Either way the failure to include the authority line shows a lack of attention to detail, a lack of commitment to do the reading and research necessary to run for elective office, and a lack of a close group of trusted friends and advisers to assist with the campaign. One Council candidate in particular seems naively unaware of the rules–no authority line appears on their signs, materials or website.

Perhaps, at a future time I might identify these candidates or tell them of their legal violations, but for now I will just make this statement. Perhaps, someone will tell these candidates to cure these violations.  For me personally, because I am being asked to put my trust in these individuals to help run Howard County, the failure to follow the relatively easy requirements of Maryland election law is disqualifying.  I will not be voting for these candidates.


Each item of campaign material must include an authority line, set apart from the other printing or content of the campaign material. The authority line must state name and address (unless the address is on file with the State Board) of the person who is responsible for the production and distribution of the campaign material.
Campaign material includes signs, buttons, letters, tickets, solicitations, radio and television advertisements, websites, social media accounts, bumpers stickers and paraphernalia such as pencils, hats and t-shirts.
The authority line for a public financing committee must contain:
 The name of the Treasurer; and
 The name of the campaign finance entity.
If the material is too small to permit the inclusion of all required information in a
legible manner, the material need only contain the name and title of the treasurer.
The Office of the Attorney General has stated that almost no material is too small to permit inclusion of the complete authority line. Accordingly, every effort should be made to include the entire authority line.














HoCo Charter is Better in Case of Death of County Executive

In the wake of the tragic death of Baltimore County County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a comparison of the Charter provisions in Howard and Baltimore Counties shows that Howard County is much better prepared to deal with the unfortunate circumstance of the death of an Executive. In fact, the Baltimore County Charter is actually ambiguously vague on who serves as acting Executive immediately after a death.

The Howard County Charter Vacancy provision covers all causes in which the office of Executive may become vacant including death, (resignation and forfeiture of office if the “Executive ceases to be a registered voter of the County or is convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.” Section 302(b)(3)).  Section 302 (f) states that the Chief Administrative Officer immediately serves as acting Executive until the County Council appoints a new Executive within 30 days.

Howard County Charter Section 302. – The County Executive.

(f) Vacancy. Whenever for any cause the office of the Executive shall become vacant, the Chief Administrative Officer shall serve as acting Executive until a new Executive shall be appointed. The office of County Executive shall be filled by resolution within thirty days by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Council. The person so elected by the Council shall possess the same qualifications for the office as provided in Section 302(b), shall belong to the same political party as his or her predecessor at the time of the Executive’s most recent election (unless his or her predecessor was not a member of a political party) and shall serve the unexpired term of his or her predecessor and until his or her successor shall qualify.

The temporary absence or disability provision applies if the Executive is away from the County perhaps because of travel to New York to meet with bond agencies, family vacation, or disabled due to illness.

(g) Temporary absence or disability. The Executive shall within thirty days upon taking office, designate in writing the Chief Administrative Officer or other appointive officer to perform the duties of the Executive during the latter’s temporary inability to perform by reason of absence from the County or disability. Such designation shall be filed with the Administrator of the Council. Any such designation may be revoked by the Executive at any time by filing a new designation with the Administrator of the Council. An Acting Executive shall have the same rights, duties, powers and obligations as an elected incumbent in said office except the power of veto.

In contrast, the Baltimore County Charter does not explicitly provide that the Chief Administrator Officer automatically serves as acting Executive in case of death, resignation, failure to stay a registered voter, or criminal conviction. Baltimore County’s statement on the Impact of Government says in part “The Baltimore County Charter stipulates that, when the County Executive is unable to fulfill his duties, the Chief Administrative Officer serves as Acting County Executive until the County Council appoints someone to fill out the remainder of his or her term.”  Yet, there is in fact no such provision applicable in the case of the death of the Executive in the Baltimore Charter for the temporary appointment of the Chief Administrative Officer. By its actual terms, Section 402 (b) states that in a vacancy there is no Executive until an appointment is made by the County Council. There is no 30-day deadline as in Howard County, which some in Baltimore County seem to be allowing for an unlimited amount of time. On the other hand, the absence of a deadline implies that the Council should act expeditiously to fill the vacancy caused by death.

Baltimore County Charter Sec. 402. – County executive.

(b) Vacancy. Whenever for any cause the office of the county executive shall become vacant, the same shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the total number of county council members established by this Charter. The person so elected by the council shall possess the same qualifications for the office as hereinabove provided in Section 402(a) hereof, shall belong to the same political party as his predecessor (unless his predecessor was not a member of a political party) and shall serve the unexpired term of his predecessor and until his successor shall qualify. (Bill No. 80, 1978, § 1) (Approved by voters Nov. 7, 1978; effective Dec. 8, 1978)

Baltimore County is proceeding under its temporary absence provision and the Administrative Officer is serving as Acting Executive. However, death is of course neither “temporary” nor is it a “disability.”

(c) Temporary absence of county executive. During the temporary disability or absence from the county of the county executive, the county administrative officer shall serve as acting county executive. If both the county executive and the county administrative officer are temporarily disabled or absent from the county, the director of the budget, as the acting county administrative officer, shall also serve as acting county executive, unless the county council designates the head of another office in the administrative services, or the director of public works to serve as acting county executive. If a county executive fails actively to perform the daily duties and responsibilities of his office for a continuous period of six months, his office may be declared vacant by the affirmative vote of a majority of the total number of county council members established by this Charter, and such vacancy shall thereupon be filled in the manner above provided in Section 402(b) of this Article. An acting county executive shall have the same rights, duties, powers and obligations as an elected incumbent of said office, exclusive, however, of the power of executive veto. (Bill No. 80, 1978, § 1) (Approved by voters Nov. 7, 1978; effective Dec. 8, 1978)

While Baltimore County is giving the language of their Charter the broadest interpretation to allow its Administrative Officer to serve as Acting Executive, this is not explicitly authorized, especially when compared to the language found in the Howard County Charter. The Baltimore County Council should clear up this ambiguity by appointing an Executive as soon a possible. In addition, Baltimore County should use Howard County’s Charter as a template and approve a Charter Amendment to specifically authorize an immediate Acting County Executive in case of death.