Would You Come To A Night Meeting? Baltimore County Council Is Wondering | WYPR

Would You Come To A Night Meeting? Baltimore County Council Is Wondering

Jan 28, 2020

Sparse crowd at Baltimore County Council's Tuesday afternoon work session.
Credit John Lee

  

The Baltimore County Council is considering moving its work sessions to the evening. The idea is that would allow more people to attend and have their say.

Seems like a simple enough idea.

But nothing is simple in politics and the council is divided over whether changing the time is such a good idea.

Three council members, Republicans Wade Kach and David Marks and Democrat Izzy Patoka say citizens have a hard time making the Tuesday 2 pm meeting because they need to be someplace else like work or school. They presented their resolution to change the meeting time to the council Tuesday afternoon at its sparsely attended work session.

“It’s a great opportunity to get young people involved in their government,” Patoka said. “It’s a great opportunity to get families with two working parents involved.”

Work sessions are when council members get in to the meat of legislation and people have the chance to have their say.

But Democratic Councilman Julian Jones countered that would leave out others, like senior citizens who don’t drive at night.

Jones said, “We will be telling them, ‘sorry, get a job during the day then come at night because that’s what we think everybody does.’”

Both Jones and Council Chair Cathy Bevins said none of their constituents have complained about the afternoon meeting time. Patoka and Kach said people have griped to them about it.

There was concern that moving the meeting to the evening could cost the county money, because staffers who attend might have to be paid overtime.

The council appears to be looking for a compromise, perhaps allowing people to testify at the beginning of their legislative session, before they take votes. Those meeting are held on Monday evenings.

Council is expected to take a vote on the proposed time change this coming Monday.