UPDATE: Commissioners React to Bombshell Resolution

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UPDATE: Commissioners React to Bombshell Resolution

La Plata, MD - 4/11/2012

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By Andy Marquis

Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) speaking at the Charles County Diversity Forum in January 2012.
Charles County Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) speaking at the Charles County Diversity Forum in January 2012.
A day after a resolution was passed stripping the Commissioner President of most of her powers, the commissioners reacted to the resolution's passage.
“I’ve consulted with my attorney,” Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said.  “Three commissioners made a decision today without advice from county counsel on behalf of the county and I will be taking guidance from my attorney.”
Kelly also expressed concerns that the three commissioners who voted to adopt  the resolution violated the Open Meetings Act, saying she felt they had met about this prior to it. Kelly said the first time she had seen the resolution was when Commissioner Debra Davis (D: 2nd) was reading the resolution during the meeting.
"On Tuesday the Board of Commissioners was faced with the important decision of whether to settle for status quo or to meet the challenge of seeking a more transparent and efficient government for all Charles County residents," Davis, who proposed the resolution, said in a statement.  "I stand behind the actions taken by a majority of the Boards of Commissioners and commend Commissioners Rucci and Collins for having the guts to stand up for what they believe is right. The actions taken in its simplest explanation was to take back the authority that the Board had previously delegated to the Commission President. This action allows for all Commissioners to be copied on all correspondence, to control policy decisions, to direct staff, to set the agenda, to be involved fully in the decision making process as the Commissioner form of government envisions.
"To be absolutely clear the elected Presidents powers after the Tuesday vote are the same powers as they were when sworn in as President. We have been reassured by the County attorney that our actions were in fact legal and by the County Administrator that there will not be any interruption to government.
"Lastly, I am positive that all of my colleagues will be able to move forward in a professional manner to do what‘s best for our county."
The commissioner president makes more money than the other commissioners, $58,000/year to $48,000/year, and is considered a full time employees since they are elected at-large as a commissioner president, and not appointed.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D: 1st) questioned the legality of what he called an “ambush” against Kelly.
“This resolution, if legal and I have serious doubts that it is legal would severely impede the governance of the county,” Robinson said in a statement released to the press on Wednesday. “There are several ironies in this resolution not the least of which is its claim that it would promote greater transparency. In fact, it was introduced in an ambush style without discussion with the three commissioners obviously in collusion. This was vicious, unprofessional and personal. It would remove all delegation of authority and if anyone truly thinks the elected commissioners have the capability of running the day to day operations of county government, they are mistaken. It takes a great and dedicated staff which we have to run the smooth operation we currently enjoy.”
"I think if you read the actual resolution, it's a recurrent to our authority to operate as a Board of County Commissioners and, more than anything else, to reassure the citizens of Charles County that we respect our commissioner form of government,” Commissioner Vice President Reuben Collins (D) said. “In my opinion, it’s an effort to once again reaffirm that and to show that everything we do is in the best interests of our Charles County residents. “There was a rising tide of concern about how the county was operating. On numerous occasions, my colleagues have raised concern about lack of input and lack of process.”
“I talked to Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D: 4th) and Commissioner Debra Davis (D: 2nd), and we talked about this and our concern and the idea of a resolution had Debra's support.”
However, Collins did say there were no formal meetings between the three of them, and that he had not seen the actual resolution before the vote on Tuesday.  If the three had held formal meetings between the three of them to discuss the resolution, it would constitute a violation of the Open Meetings Act, something Collins said they were very aware of.
“We did not hold separate meetings; there was no meeting of the minds between the three of us,” Collins said.
Calls to Commissioners Rucci, who voted for the resolution, have not been returned as of Thursday night.
TheBayNet will have more on this developing story as soon as it becomes available.

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