County Councilmen: Keep your day jobs
An interesting footnote to last night's election was the defeat of a Baltimore County charter amendment that would have removed a prohibition on county council members working in the state government. At least twice in the last decade, councilmen have run afoul of this provision without anybody realizing that it was on the books in the first place. So if people didn't even know that the rule existed, why did Baltimore County voters vote 54-46 to keep it?
The rule is a very Baltimore County sort of thing -- other counties lack similar provisions -- born out of a healthy distrust among the charter's framers for the people who would be elected. (Given the history of corruption in BaltCo in the early days of charter rule, this was maybe an understandable attitude.)
But now? It's not like the old days in Towson when the U.S. Attorney's office was indicting people left and right. Instead, you've got a group of seven guys on the council who have been elected and re-elected, on average, four times. The new guy, Ken Oliver, is on his second term, and the veteran, Vince Gardina (who was the instigator of the charter amendment) is on his fifth. This group of men (yes, all of them are men) has been serving for a collective 90 years at this point. Few of them have faced anything approaching a serious challenge in years. Voters keep re-electing them handily.
So what's the deal? Charter amendments rarely fail. If voters keep sending these guys back to Towson, why the rejection of this charter amendment? Are people getting tired of them?