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Voters may settle issue between Baltimore County Executive and Council

Baltimore County


  The Baltimore County Council is deciding whether to ask voters to force the county executive to cough up information when council members demand it. It’s part of a proposed change to the county’s charter.



Republican council members David Marks and Wade Kach have complained for years that they cannot get County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to provide information when they ask for it. Kach said he’d like things he could share with his constituents, like a list of roads in his district the administration plans to repair.


Kach said,“Through the three and a half years that I’ve been here, getting information from the administration at times has been like pulling teeth, to be honest with you.”


Kach’s and Marks’ proposed change to the county charter would require the county executive to provide information council members say they need in order to propose legislation or to review and monitor county programs. 


Michael Laltrelli, who lives in Lutherville, told council at its work session Tuesday that he supports the bill.


“The taxpayers are entitled to this information,” Laltrelli said. “I don’t know too many top secret things that need to be kept from the public by the county.”


But Ted Venetoulis, who chaired a commission that studied the county’s charter, urged caution. Venetoulis served as Baltimore County Executive in the 1970s. He said that trying to legislate the relationship council and the county executive have with each other is difficult. Venetoulis said it has to be reconciled within the current balance of power.


Venetoulis said, “And if a councilman is not happy with that, there are other techniques, that, I don’t want to use the word retaliation, but of retaliating if you feel you are not being treated properly.”


Venetoulis did not offer council any pointers on how to retaliate against a county executive.


This and other proposed changes to the county’s charter are scheduled for a vote this coming Monday. 


Another proposed charter change would allow more time for legislation to pass the council. Currently, a bill must pass within 40 days or it dies. The charter change would increase that to 65 days. Supporters of the change say legislation is sometimes rushed through council.


If at least five of the seven council members approve of any of the proposed charter changes, they will go on the November ballot. 


John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.