Howard County Council Member David Yungmann has filed legislation that would create a public confirmation process for the appointment of all department directors (CR 51-2019). Here is information via his Facebook page from March 22nd:

Yesterday I pre-filed legislation (CR-51) that would amend the County’s Charter and create a public confirmation process for the appointment of all department directors. Howard County is one of the only charter counties that does not involve a public process or council confirmation for these appointments. Public engagement and council approval is currently only required when determining the County Solicitor, Health Officer, Cable Administrator, and the dozens of citizen members to our County Boards and Commissions. This amendment would align Howard County with other charter counties including Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, Prince George’s, Montgomery, Talbot, and Baltimore City.

I, along with my colleagues on the County Council and the County Executive, committed to increasing transparency and public inclusion in county government during our respective campaigns. I believe this is consistent with that commitment and a positive step for Howard County. If passed, the amendment will be sent to a referendum vote in the 2020 election cycle.

To read the legislation, visit: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx…

In reviewing the legislation…here are some of the proposed changes to County Charter Section 302 in this bill (on page 4):

To appoint [[the Chief Administrative Officer and]] the heads of all offices [[and departments]] which are subject to his or her supervision and control under this Charter or by law;

TO APPOINT, SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION BY THE AFFIRMATIVE VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL, THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER AND THE HEADS OF ALL DEPARTMENTS WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO HIS OR HER SUPERVISION AND CONTROL UNDER THIS CHARTER OR BY LAW; 

So if this is passed…the voters will decide yes or no on these changes via a referendum vote in 2020.

I have not reached out to Council Member Yungmann or County Executive Calvin Ball about this legislation at this point. This might be something I do in the future…but I am waiting to see what happens at the County Council level first.

I have reservations right now about this legislation. I understand it and I am all for transparency…but I also see how this can cause problems (leadership positions delayed in being filled) and further politicize positions within Howard County Government. I am not looking at this legislation in regards to the current administration…but future administrations with different County Council Members. My thought right now is that the County Executive should have the discretion needed to appoint staff in leadership positions…and also should be held accountable for those appointed to those positions.

I look forward to the discussions on this legislation and hope to learn more about it in the near future…you never know…I might switch how I think about it as I obtain additional information.

Let me know what you think about this legislation in the comments.

Scott E

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