Don’t hold your breath for an amiable start to charter government in Frederick County, Maryland. In one of the last acts by the current board of commissioners, and a poke in the eye to incoming county executive Jan Gardner(D), they appointed board president Blaine Young(R) to a vacant planning commission position. This appointment to the planning commission will actually last longer than the four year term Gardner just won with the November election.
The supporters of Jan Gardner will call foul and argue she should be allowed to appoint the person to fill this position to a commission that captures the attention of those who follow the government actions pertaining to growth.
However, per the charter, the incoming county executive must receive approval from the county council for any appointments to commissions and any “at-will” employees she may wish to hire. The “at-will” employees are department heads that serve at the pleasure and are not merit employees.
With the composition of the council being 4-3 Republican, do not expect someone like a Gardner supporter and former county commissioner Kai Hagen(D) to receive approval from the council.
But, when looking at the appointment of commissioner Blaine Young to the planning commission, the state constitution spells out a person cannot hold two positions in which they receive compensation. A planning commission member does receive a small amount of compensation.
When I discussed this with county attorney John Mathias, he pointed out the appointment of Young to the planning commission takes effect on November 30, a Sunday and the last day before charter is enacted and the new elected officials take office. In all practicality, he added nothing would be done on a Sunday. Furthermore, Mathias said that by Young’s acceptance of the planning commission position, it would be deemed he had resigned his county commissioner position on Sunday November 30.
It will also be interesting to see who is elected president and vice-president of the council. The president will preside over the meetings. Both positions are called for by the charter and are determined by vote of the full council. With a 4-3 Republican advantage look to see these two positions filled by Republicans Bud Otis and Billy Shreve who were both elected at-large. Otis received the most votes, but county commissioner Billy Shreve, a big Young supporter, will also want this position. The council can decide to add another position, and if they choose to do so, perhaps another Republican council elect member Kirby Delauter or Tony Chmelik would take this slot.
Otis would be the wiser choice over Shreve for council president and he has the most promise to actually understand he is the swing vote and act in a more common sense manner. It is obvious Shreve will continue his blind carte blanche support Blaine Young and his policies toward growth.
Regardless of who becomes council president, with Young on the planning commission and a Republican majority council, Frederick County residents can expect little cooperation with county executive elect Gardner and her positions on how best to manage growth.