Bond Bill costs College Park Residents

While Chinese protestors took over the Hong Kong International Airport in a drive for more democracy, the College Park Mayor and Council laughed at its citizens’ efforts to exercise their democratic rights.

At last night’s City Council meeting, six out of eight Councilmembers rejected the appeals of more than 200 residents to put a 19+ million dollar bond bill to referendum in this fall’s elections. The bill combines monies for the soon-to-be constructed City Hall and the Duvall Field renovation.

Councilmembers Kate Kennedy, PJ Brennan, Monroe Dennis, Robert Day, John Rigg and Dustyn Kujawa, without compunction, elected to push forward a motion to borrow nearly 20 million dollars to be repaid over 30 years.  Although Mayor Wojahn was unable to vote on the issue, his stance was aligned with those six members. This vote will cost taxpayers $1 million in interest annually.

Councilmembers Fazlul Kabir and Denise Mitchell presented an alternate motion to postpone the vote until after the issue went to referendum. This motion was voted down.

A dozen residents, one presenting two petitions with 200 signatures, spoke to tax breaks for developers, the cost of artificial turf for Duvall Field, and democratic rights.  They were rewarded with nay votes and the sight of their democratic rights swirling down the drain.

City Council: Your Abusive Child

A funny thing happened during the city council meeting Tuesday: Councilmember Rigg spoke in proud tones that the Council discovered their power to take on a huge amount of debt.

This isn’t new information. Traditionally, the City has been very responsible with their funds. Frugal, even. Downright stingy, some might say. And residents have been perfectly fine with that approach. To my knowledge, no citizen has ever bemoaned the fact that the City had refrained from spending large amounts of money they didn’t actually have, on things they don’t really need.

But with the new City Hall project, it looks like that’s all about to change.

(Warning: Extended and somewhat-tortured metaphor follows)

The best way I can describe it, is like you gave your teenage son an old wallet you weren’t using, and they discovered a shiny new credit card tucked away in it. You had all-but-forgotten about the card, because you never use it, nor had any plan to. But now Junior has found it, and he’s going to the mall.

There are reasons you didn’t use the card. First, because you wanted it as a safety, to be kept in reserve in case of an emergency. Second, because you want to save it for really important purchases, like that security system for your house you know you’ll need someday, but keep telling yourself you won’t.

But what Junior needs, is a car. A roomier version of what he already has would be fine for his needs, but it just doesn’t have that “Wow!” factor to impress his friends. So he doesn’t want to just trade-in his Kia for a 4 Runner.

No, what Junior wants, is a Tesla.

The Tesla is shiny and new, turns heads when people see it, and it’s good for the environment, too! And their friend from college has offered to chip-in half to buy the car, so long as they can use it, too.

Great deal, right?

Except the Tesla is $350,000, where the $40,000 4 Runner would have gotten the job done just as well, and Junior wouldn’t have to share his (your) sweet ride with his somewhat-domineering older friends.

Oh well. Maybe when Junior comes back from his shopping spree, you can cut his card. Or vote him out of office, when you get the chance.

City Hall to cost taxpayers $20 million plus

They say talk is cheap, but not talk about College Park’s new City Hall.  The price of the upcoming project has jumped from $8 million in 2014 to $20 million plus as of last week.  In 2014 a desperate push was made to get this project on the books.  As I recall, a decision had to be made immediately because $400,000 in state money was to be had, and any delay meant the City would lose the funds.  So without doing their due diligence, the then City Council and Mayor Andrew Fellows, voted to situate the new City Hall at the current site despite the testimony of dozens of citizens who asked for consideration of the Stone Straw site in District 2.  When it became apparent that the City Council had no intention of considering the 17-acred site, those same citizens threw their support behind the Calvert School location.  But again, their voices were squelched, and the City Council voted to locate the new building on the current site.

Councilmember Fazlul Kabir, District 1, is working diligently to make, not only District 1 residents aware of the current spike in costs, but residents throughout the City.  Posted on his blog, Kabir Cares, is a comprehensive summary of the climbing expenses. He also includes a presentation created by the architects, Design Collective. http://www.kabircares.org/city-hall-project-cost-rises-by-8-million-in-8-months/

Read CPM’s previous post on the City Hall issue at the following link:  https://collegeparkmatters.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/do-we-need-a-new-city-hall-for-12-5-million/

These are your Tax Dollars!!  This Tuesday, April 23, let your voices be heard on this increasingly expensive project.  The City Council meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.  Parking passes are available at the window. If you cannot make the meeting, please send an email to:  cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

Trash talk just a smokescreen?

The latest topic to heat up on Next Door is just trash talk. Seriously. An inordinate amount of time and energy has been spent discussing the City’s  latest proposal on bulk trash.  I’m not saying this trash talk is unimportant, but let’s be real. There is a simple answer to this.  Communicate with those offenders and fine them if necessary. The Public Works Office keeps track of anyone requesting a bulk trash pickup. So, done! Let’s not waste anymore of our time on an issue which can be so easily resolved.

With such a simple solution at hand,  it only makes sense this trash talk is a smokescreen or a red herring  to divert residents from the real issues: the fiscal year 2020 budget, four-year terms for mayor and council,  a  commitment to the university to spend some undetermined part of $30 million of taxpayers’ dollars on a new City Hall, just to name a few.

It’s spring again, and the FY2020 budget cycle is in full swing.  See below for a complete schedule. It’s worth noting that although Councilmembers and residents have asked for a later budget review process, this year’s is even earlier than usual. Per the City’s Director of Finance, Gary Fields, the proposed budget is scheduled to be distributed to our elected officials posted on the City website is March 8.  A limited number of hard copies will be available on Monday afternoon, March 11.

March 11 is also the second public forum regarding possible charter changes to the mayor and council’s  terms to take place at Davis Hall. The City’s newly appointed Election Commission is mandated to collect public comment and report back to the Mayor and Council on the public’s opinion on four-year terms as well as staggered terms.  (See Residents oppose Four-Year Terms)

As for the new City Hall, taxpayers and dare I say, our elected officials and staff, have no idea of the total bill facing us. Some may remember it started off at $8 million, then it  jumped to $12 million. Now, because the construction is a joint project with the University of Maryland, no one, at least connected with City, is clear on the total costs!

So don’t be fooled!   Don’t be taken in by trash talk! Look at the more important issues before us.

Proposed FY 2020 budget schedule:

Operating Budget worksheets distributed to departments December 20, 2018
Prepare the FY2020-FY2024 CIP (Staff input & document) January 2019
FY20 Budget preview discussion with Mayor & Council
*Review Cost/Fees Study
Tues. January 8, 2019
Mayor & Council requests for FY20 budget due Fri. January 25, 2019
Prepare cost estimates of Mayor & Council requests
Revenue projections & payroll info prepared by Finance
January – February 2019
Department budget worksheets due – returned to Finance Fri. January 25, 2019
Review of department operating budget submittals by City Manager and Finance Director with Dept. Director Mon. Jan 28 – Thursday February 7
(Start in January as completed)
FY20 Proposed Budget & CIP distributed to Mayor & Council and posted on City website Fri. March 8, 2019
Worksessions on the FY2020 Proposed Budget & CIP Saturday, March 23 @ 8 am
Saturday, March 30 @ 8 am
Additional worksessions if needed
FY20 Budget ordinance introduced – City Council Meeting
(includes changes from budget worksessions)
Tues. April 23
Advertisement in Washington Post for Public Hearings on:

  • FY20 Proposed Budget & CIP
  • Constant Yield Tax Rate  (if needed)
Thurs. April 25
Hold Public Hearings on (1) FY2020 Proposed Budget & CIP and (2) Constant yield tax rate (if needed) Tues. May 7
Worksession discussion of changes to the proposed budget as a result of the Public Hearings (if needed) Tuesday May 14 (if needed)
Adopt FY20 budget ordinance (including CIP) Tues. May 21
Effective date of FY20 Adopted Budget July 1, 2019

 

Supreme Court Hears Peace Cross Arguments

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the Bladensburg Peace Cross case (Case Nos. 17-1717 and 18-18).

Justice Sotomayor started off the questioning by noting the size of the memorial and the park, and comparing it to other similar parks around the country, some of which may have created additional memorials merely as a “pretext” to justify their own cross-shaped memorials.   MNCPPC attorney Neal Katyal noted that other memorials at the Peace Cross location went back as far as the early 1980s.

Justice Sotomayor also mentioned the possibilities of transferring ownership back to the American Legion, or moving the memorial off government-owned property.  These options were rejected by Katyal, because the memorial sits in the middle of a dangerous and busy intersection, and would most likely be destroyed if anyone actually tried to move it.

Justice Kagan asked if a similar memorial could be created today, either to honor WWI veterans, or as a memorial for other purposes. Justice Ginsburg added the possibility of a similar memorial honoring victims of other disasters.

Justice Ginsburg’s line of questioning brought up the concept of a “community standard” regarding such memorials. Justice Kagan questioned whether it would be acceptable for a community to put a cross up in front of a school or other public institution that had been the victim of a mass tragedy, such as a school shooting.

Justice Kavanaugh asked whether Jewish soldiers would be offended to be memorialized with a cross. Justice Sotomayor noted that even deeply religious Christians might be offended by secularizing the cross for use in such a memorial. Attorney Katyal responded, “I don’t think we let those objectors dictate that. If that were the rule, you’d be tearing down crosses at Arlington Cemetery and nationwide […] and sow religious divisions.”

Attorney Michael A. Carvin urged the court to extend the Town of Greece “coercion test” to the Peace Cross, noting that there is no entanglement with a church involved with the Peace Cross memorial. “It’s just a cross,” noted Justice Kagan, alluding to the fact that aside from its Latin-cross shape, there is no religious content whatsoever in the memorial itself.

There was some discussion about surrounding communities also putting up crosses of their own, and whether that would constitute proselytizing. “Suppose after this case Hyattsville puts up a cross, and College Park puts up a cross,” speculated Justice Kavanaugh.

Justice Alito later revisited the concept of a “community standard” regarding memorials, asking whether it would be acceptable for a community to erect a religious symbol as a memorial in the wake of a tragedy, if the community specifically requested such a symbol.

Justice Gorsuch kept coming back to the sticking point of where to draw the line between using a religious symbol in a secular memorial, and proselytizing. “The Lemon test is a dog’s breakfast,” he noted, referring to a long-existing 3-prong standard sometimes used by the court to determine if the use of a religious symbol is permissible.

Many of the attorneys noted that under the existing standards, the Peace Cross should be an “easy case” for the Supreme Court to decide. If the questions asked by the justices are any indication, they seem to be trying to come up with a better test for cases like this, where a government entity finds itself in ownership of a religiously-themed piece, either by intent, or by accident. There seems to be a leaning of opinion that the way a community decides to memorialize and honor its dead is best left up to that community, unless there is some form of physical or financial coercion involved.

Here’s hoping the justices come to a well-considered opinion.

You can listen to the oral argument here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2018/17-1717

All the relevant documents can be found here:
https://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/docketfiles/html/public/17-1717.html

You can read the transcript of the arguments here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2018/17-1717_0pl1.pdf

Residents oppose four-year terms

Do you lie awake at night wondering: What is the purpose of the College Park Electoral Commission?  Is it to check off a box? To give the Mayor and Council a buffer when they vote in favor of four-year terms?  Is it to promote a democratic process?  You probably don’t lose any sleep over this latest attempt to change the City charter, however, we must ask the questions.

On February 11, the Commission held its first public forum to allow residents to voice their thoughts on the viability of four-year terms and staggering those terms.  Surprisingly, only 10 long-time residents showed up on that miserable, rainy evening. Only seven of those spoke to the issues. ALL seven opposed four-year terms for varying reasons.

One resident noted that two-year terms have worked well since the City’s founding.  In fact,  in only a handful of instances was the incumbent voted out of office permitting the official to remain in office for a term or multiple terms.

Longer terms would be a strong disincentive for many to run, student or not. Living in such a transient area, it is implausible to insist on four-year terms and would discourage community engagement, said another resident.

I pointed out that a move to staggered terms would, without a doubt, be inefficient and not cost-effective.  City staff and the Board of Elections Supervisors would still be responsible for conducting elections every two years while the incumbents would only campaign and fund raise every four years.

The proposal for four-year terms was first brought up by my District 4 colleague, Dustyn Kujawa, when I was still on Council in 2017. Some of my colleagues complained of having to raise funds and knock on doors too frequently.  The same junior councilmember complained of the learning curve.  I could only shake my head in disbelief — in life there are usually learning curves.  This one can be reduced by participating in City committees, attending Council meetings and joining civic associations.

Following the public forum, the Commission held a meeting at which time newcomer to the City, Commissioner, Brooks Boliek, pointed out the comments coming in online were mostly in favor of  four-year terms.  Former Councilmember, John Krouse, requested that the verbatim transcripts of the comments be made available on the City’s website.  The Commission voted in favor of his motion.

A second and possibly third and fourth forum were discussed. Boliek was strongly opposed to holding more than two. Commissioner, Nora Eidelman, spoke in favor of more public engagement. The possibility of multiple forums was left open. The next forum is set for March 11, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. at Davis Hall.

Special thanks to Oscar Gregory who taped the public forum. It is available at the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/OGregory4collegeparkmd/videos/253642775563272/

 

 

Six-story Storage facility coming to North College Park

What’s the point of participating in local government?  Once again, I had to ask myself that question after watching the deliberations of Prince George’s County District Council this week.  Despite the dogged efforts of four College Park, District 4 residents, one of them being me, a former D4 Councilmember,  the District Council (the County Council when it sits on zoning and development matters) denied the residents’ motion for reconsideration of the construction of the JDA storage facility in North College Park.

As you may recall, the District Council decided in October 2018 that a 6-story consolidated storage facility is appropriate for College Park’s main street.  On January 28, six District (County) Councilmembers voted to deny the residents’ an opportunity to have the case reconsidered.

Of College Park’s four Councilmembers, only D1 representative, Tom Dernoga, voted to allow the reconsideration while respectively D3 and At-Large representatives, Danielle Glaros and Calvin Hawkins, voted to deny. Mel Franklin, our other At-Large representative,  was absent.

The residents stated in their motion that the Council’s final vote in October was based on faulty land use policy analysis by the District Council’s attorney, Stan Brown. Briefly, the Council was never presented with the information that storage facilities are considered industrial use and not for areas zoned C-S-C (mixed use commercial). In fact, in 2008 – 2010, when my neighbors and I met repeatedly with the County’s planning staff as well as County Councilmember, Dernoga, we deliberately indicated in the plan that consolidated storage was not a permitted use.

In addition, the District Council’s final decision resulted from erroneous information  the proposed consolidated storage use is not subject to the building height limits, and that “the 2010 plan contemplated a storage facility use when it is expressly excluded storage facilities from the Corridor Infill building form configuration – i.e., principal building height measured in number of stories.”

During the meeting, District Councilmembers were reminded repeatedly by Brown and other staff members that to consider the case for reconsideration, it must fall in at least one of the four categories, surprise, fraud, inadvertence or mistake.  Despite these glaring mistakes, a majority of Councilmembers ruled against the citizens.

It is in moments like these that citizens, more often than not, throw in the towel and vow never to return to voice their concerns to those in local governance.  In other words, when the people are disregarded and politicians are sure they know better, the people give up.  They walk away; many never to return.  It is sad to say, perhaps that is just exactly what local governance wants.

What’s in store for College Park in 2019

The City Council’s 2019 retreat was held January 6. It was an open meeting attended by three residents from Districts 1 and 4, who took copious notes and photos. Although it was an open meeting, regrettably, it was not streamed or even recorded. As one of those residents and a former City Councilmember, I thought it important to share, through photographs, the results of their discussion. Note that at the point they did the infamous dots exercise, red meant stop working on that item and green meant continue working on it.  New items were not added to the list. See what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What follows are the results of the Council’s discussion about the University of Maryland and College Park City University Partnership (CPCUP).  Again, draw your own conclusions.

 

 

 

 

Storage Facility looks like Office Building — gets the OK?!

Much to the dismay of many North College Park residents their City Councilmember, Mary Lehman, brought the JDA storage facility project up for a vote on October 22. The vote which took place with no discussion passed 9-0 in favor of the project despite the opposition of the City Council, North College Park Citizens Association and the North Autoville Cherry Hill Organization. As a party of record, I have been waiting since then for the resulting report.  You can read it in full the link below.

This decision by the County Council sets a dangerous precedent for future projects on Rt 1 in College Park.   Moreover,  in a telephone survey done by one of the four appellants, there is no need for additional storage facilities as the current ones located in College Park and Beltsville are underutilized. Moreover, a soon-to-be constructed storage facility approved for the Branchville Industrial area will be added storage space should more be needed.

After nearly two years of meetings, residents on the northwest corner of Rt. 1 had created a plan for their neighborhoods on which they could agree and would minimize future impacts by new development in their area of College Park.  They had agreed to a maximum height of four stories and the Table of Uses.  This was all swept away, with little consideration by the County Council, in October.   It makes residents question why they should get involved in the city/county’s future plans at all.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQOyUWRIGPkH6pNLrkOvy1-o3cfhPwiKSEyzOPrF-z9SoP0zqvX5O72i6jBDGeEJHHmUYzBouyIFZcC/pub

 

 

 

Four-year Terms, At-large Members and Redistricting?

The information below was provided by City staff to Councilmember Denise Mitchell (D4).

Tonight, the Mayor and Council will discuss four-year terms, as well as possibly reducing the number of representatives and keeping eight Councilmembers of which four will be district- elected members and four will be at-large Councilmembers. This could be done through a non-binding referendum in 2019 or as a charter member which means only five elected officials will need to vote in favor.

During the Mayor and Council Fall Retreat held last year, the 2018 priorities were identified.  Some of those priorities was discuss amending College Park’s Charter to create four-year staggering terms, transitioning four districts seats to four at-large seats; and mid-term redistricting.  These election changes were approved as a priority by the Mayor and Council on Feb. 13, 2018.

In an August Worksession, the City Council invited Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton to provide an overview of Mayor and Council’s switch to four-year terms. To provide some context, the City of Rockville has an approximately 61,000 residents. In order to explore such a significant change, Rockville created a Charter Review Commission that was charged to discuss the following three items:

  1. The length of the elected terms of the Mayor and Council;
  2. The number of members of the City Council;
  3. The schedule by which elections for the Mayor and Council are held.

Their Commission conducted public outreach and conducted interviews with other municipalities to come to their final recommendation.  As for the Mayor and Councilmembers’ term, the Commission recommended the term length should be extended from two years to four years.  On the question regarding the number of Councilmembers on the council, the Commission recommended increasing the council from four Councilmembers to six.  Finally, the Commission recommended elections be held every four years timing them with the Federal elections.

The City of Rockville put these items on an Advisory Referendum during their 2013 election.  After the 2015 election all four council members serve At-Large. Mayor Newton elaborated on that the having council to serve four year terms in her opinion increases accountability and and more is accomplished.

Redistricting — Historical information

College Park began with five districts from 1945-1951 and since 1991 to the present has had four districts with two Councilmembers per district; the Mayor is elected at large.

 

Dates Council Composition
1945 – 1951
Five districts with 1 Councilmember per district, plus 2 at-large seats, plus Mayor (elected at-large) = 8
1953 – 1965
Six districts with 1 Councilmember per district, plus 2 at-large seats, plus Mayor (elected at-large) = 9
1967 – 1989
Eight districts with 1 Councilmember per district, plus Mayor (elected at-large) = 9
1991 – present*
Four districts with 2 Councilmembers per district, plus Mayor (elected at-large) = 9

Redistricting and Lawsuits 1970s – 2000

  1. A Redistricting Committee was appointed in 1973, Councilman Kushner served as Chairman. In August 1975, the Redistricting Committee under Chairman Kushner stated that redistricting was necessary; the City Council accepted this report. In early 1974, UMD Student Government Representative, Larry Albert, appeared before the City Council voicing complaints regarding the age and residency requirements for registering to vote, as well as the need to redistrict. He noted that such a move was necessary because of the large number of students housed on campus.
  2. Renee Dubois, a university student, also believed the City Council should address the matter. Shortly thereafter, City Attorney, Mr. Topf, informed the Mayor and Council the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] was initiating a lawsuit against the City.
  3. On October 1, 1975, the ACLU filed suit representing campus students Renee Dubois and David Johnson in Prince George’s Circuit Court alleging malapportionment in the City’s voting districts. In June 1976, the Circuit Court ruled the students were not legal College Park residents and dismissed the suit. Dubois and Johnson appealed the ruling to the State Court of Appeals. In July 1977, the State Court ruled that the students had standing to sue and sent the case back to the Circuit Court. In October 1977, the students requested an injunction to delay the City’s election in the event that they won their suit. The Court denied granting the injunction; the students appealed that decision to the Appeals Court on Nov. 30, 1977.
  4. Meanwhile Robert Payne, Chairman of the Redistricting Committee, appointed in early 1976, filed a report with the City Council stating that the university students should be counted in any redistricting and that all Councilmembers should run at-large. Worth noting, a minority report from the committee disagreed on both points because they felt that: 1) at-large Councilmembers might result in some areas not being well represented, and 2) on counting the students, such an action would be the inclusion of an undefined population.
  5. In March 1978, the City approved new voting districts based on number of registered voters [128 students had registered]. The Court approved the redistricting plan but also allowed the appeal to continue. The Court ruled in favor of the students in Oct. 1979, and the City’s redistricting plan was ruled in violation of the 14th On Sept. 9, 1980 the City approved and submitted two plans to the Court. The plans included the possibility of having four districts with two representatives from each, keeping the eight districts with one representative each, or redistrict on some other basis [Municipal Scene article]. In Jan. 1981, the City Council revised one of the two plans because of the associated costs and resubmitted Plan A to the Maryland State Courts. The Court approved the City plan based on the number of registered voters in May of 1981. The students filed an appeal of the registered voters redistricting plan to the Appeals Court on Jan. 7, 1982. The Appeals Court, on July 19, 1982, upheld the redistricting based on the number of registered voters. In Oct. 1982 the ACLU filed requesting the Supreme Court to review the seven-year old case. In January 1983, the Supreme Court declined to review the case. The City then canceled the voter books and began an aggressive registration program.
  6. In June 1983, a redistricting committee chaired by Raymond Galloway, submitted two plans to the Council and a public hearing was scheduled for July. There were a total of five plans under consideration by the Council – two from the redistricting committee and three submitted by others. After considerable discussion, a plan was adopted in August 1983. The major problem was dividing the City into districts of equal voter distribution, as compact as possible, and still maintaining neighborhoods and similar interests as much as possible. Students still wanted their own districts so they could elect someone from campus to represent them.
  7. In July 1983, the City Council approved lowering the age to run for Council from 25 to 21 thus enabling a larger pool of prospective candidates from the campus to run. This change was a referendum question on November 1983 election ballot.
  8. Another redistricting commission was approved in October 1988 and appointed in November 1988 for the purpose of providing a redistricting plan. The charge to the commission was to redistrict on the basis of voter registration. Their plans were presented to the City Council in March 1989, and a public hearing was scheduled for April. There were four plans presented: two from the Committee (“Red Plan” and “Blue Plan”) and two from a Councilmember. In June the “Blue Plan” was adopted. It was based on registered voters as of October 1988 and several other criteria. Questions arose concerning the 1982 court decision. A suit was filed against the City over the Blue redistricting plan in early fall 1989, and the City retained counsel to represent the interests of the City in this matter.
  9. A settlement was proposed with six points to be covered by the redistricting plan which the City Council approved in October 1990. There were four settlement documents in all to be considered and then the judge would approve the outcome. In December 1990, the Municipal Scene carried a notice stating that the City Council was considering a resolution to divide the City into four districts with two council members from each. The Student Government representative stated at the January 1991 meeting that “this proposal” seemed fine.
  10. In 1991, a redistricting committee began the process of dividing the City into four districts having two representatives each for the total of eight council members. The districts were to be based on voter registrations numbers and census figures. This change was due to a court settlement of a suit brought by Michael Smith, a UMD student. The plan had to be in effect by May 1, 1991. A report was submitted to the City at the end of March, and five plans were submitted for consideration. The City Council introduced three of the plans at their April 9 meeting and scheduled a special meeting for April 30, 1991 for the adoption of the new redistricting plan. Plan #4 was adopted.
  11. In October 1993, a City resident filed a complaint with the County Board of Elections alleging voter registration fraud in the upcoming election. The City Council discussed what action, if any, they should take to prevent any problems with the election. Several motions were proposed, and the City attorney was directed to attend the hearing and present to the court a proposed affidavit as a solution to the suspected voter fraud. While awaiting a decision from the Court on the injunction request, Council authorized the City Manager to have to the authority to “door drop” notices to all City residents if there were any change to the election to be held on November 2. The election was held without any interruption.
  12. In June 1995, as the result of a complaint lodged with Council about possible voter fraud, Council sent a letter to the U. S. Attorney in Baltimore requesting an investigation of the complaint and the County’s response.
  13. Charter Change – To provide for a more orderly redistricting procedure the Council initiated a charter change to provide for an automatic redistricting after receipt of the regular Bureau of Census population data following each national census. This charter change was introduced and passed in 2001.