Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nominations (Full Continue)

On Monday in #HoCoMD all the political folks sat around waiting for the most predictable outcome since Titanic and were not disappointed as County Executive Kittleman predictably vetoed the nutritional standards bill and used a lot of very predictable language in his veto message.  My focus, however, remains tightly on the nominations.

The Executive’s message through his campaign site and through his message givers on social media[1] appears to be two fold.  The first focuses very much on Susan Garber while the second is about the process.  More specifically on process, they claim other Executives got deference with their nominations and the Council can vote nominees up or down but tabling is somehow a violation of civility. 

First things first, Susan Garber is barely the issue.  On her own merits I personally find her a bit out of touch but specifically around the development issues not a particularly big deal.  On the Planning Board my prediction is she would simply be frustrated while simultaneously frustrating (primarily the Columbia Downtown process).  It would be annoying but not overly so.  In short, Susan Garber is not the issue.[2] 

For the Garber nomination the focus is much more on the fact that she is set up to replace an existing Planning Board member who has another term he could serve if reappointed.  To dismiss a volunteer that way is, at best, tacky.  At worst it is a blatant sign of disrespect to the largely thankless job of serving on a Board, especially the Planning Board.

The Ivan Betancourt nomination for Human Rights Commission is a two fer.  He is replacing an existing member (the Chair in fact).  She blogged about her experience here so I won’t venture to put words in her mouth.   Additionally, as I stated before, Betancourt was an extremely outspoken opponent of the Dream Act, going so far as to declare his refusal to vote for McCain because of his position on immigration and appear in an ad for John White for Congress on the issue of immigration.  Feel free to call this political, but that kind of fervor against people based on immigration status[3] should be a disqualification for appointment to the Human Rights Commission.

As I have now said several times, the Kimberly Hartman nomination for Local Children’s Board is a blatant affront to the values of Howard County.  For Kittleman to nominate someone whose job it is to be dishonest to young people to the Local CHILDREN’S Board is so abhorrent it makes me shake every time I think about it.

Now let us get to the issue of “process.”  Here is what I don’t understand.  If the Council really was just trying to send a message to the Executive that he couldn’t have the nominations he wanted, than they would have relished an “up or down vote” as much as he seems to desire one.   However, their message is quite different.  Bipartisanship means, by its very nature, things have to be done differently.  Above all, bipartisanship means communication throughout the process. 

I am not in a position to know that these meetings did or did not happen, so I am reading the tea leaves[4] here and none of them say open lines of communication to facilitate working relationship.  The picking apart of potentially every nominee in public is bad form for everybody and so, just my humble opinion, if the Executive is truly committed to being an independent leader he must reach across the aisle BEFORE nominations are made.  At the end they may very well reach an impasse, at which point an up or down vote on the impasse would be suitable.  But Mr. Kittleman, please at least respect the Council – and the citizens of Howard County – enough to stop pretending you play no part in the current stalemate.  Especially if it’s true that you threatened to shut down the Planning Board until you got your way[5].

[1] Which apparently, based on their editorial about nominations and giving him a column for his veto, includes the Columbia Flier.
[2] I do also want to note however that Ms. Garber was extremely active with a group that took direct aim at Councilmember Weinstein in lets just say an unpleasant way.  If I were Weinstein, I would take this nomination as a personal insult.  It would be like if President Bush expected Senator Kerry not to obstruct the nomination of the leader of the Swift Boat Veterans to the Supreme Court.
[3] Yes, I know he is a legal immigrant.  That does not change my opinion on what taking this position does to delegitimize his nomination to the Human Rights Commission.
[4] In this case the leaves are the request by the Councilmembers for more information and the memo back saying, “nah I'm good.”
[5] A move I can’t for the life of me imagine is legal which may very well be why the threat wasn’t executed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment