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Baltimore County Council Changes Meeting Time, But Members Question Motives Behind It

John Lee

It might sound mundane, but a proposal to change the start time of one of its meetings sparked weeks of debates and arguments behind closed doors by the usually mild mannered Baltimore County Council.

Council members who wanted to change the time of their work session from 2 pm to 6 pm said it was all about getting more members of the public to attend. But council chairwoman Cathy Bevins, who wanted to keep the meetings at 2, wasn’t buying it. At a recent meeting she called the change “self-serving.”

Bevins said, “I don’t know why you work so hard to get to a job where you know what the benefits are, you know what the times are, and then you get here and you want to change everything because it wasn’t the way you did it in your other job, or now all of a sudden you have another job that is more important and maybe you can’t get from one job to the next job.”

Councilman Todd Crandell opposed the change as well.

“I’m wondering what the real reasoning behind this is,” Crandell said. “I doubt that it’s transparency. I doubt that it’s more citizen involvement.”

And when it was proposed at that meeting to delay the vote until Tuesday night, Councilman Izzy Patoka, who wanted to move the start time to 6 pm, had this to say to Bevins.

“If we were as uncivil as I’ve observed, then I think we should just vote on it and move on to the next issue,” Patoka said.

Bevins responded,“We’re being civil right now talking about it.”

Patoka took issue with having his motives questioned.

“I think it’s for the benefit of the public that we address issues before us and focus on the substance and not on motives behind each individual council member’s thoughts,” Patoka said.

In the end, they did delay the vote to Tuesday night, where council members decided to split the difference and hold their work sessions at 4 pm.

No one seemed particularly happy about that outcome, but so goes the art of the compromise.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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