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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Daniel Haggerty | Posted 5/10/2006

On the Council Agenda May 1

Resolution 06-0171R Public Service Commission—Appeal of Electric Rate Increase Decision Requests that City Solicitor Ralph S. Tyler appeal the Maryland Public Service Commission’s electricity rate increase deferral plan, which will allow the 72 percent rate increase, scheduled to be implemented in July, to be phased in over the next 18 months.

Public Interest Grade: B+ Although the decision by the PSC denied Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. the right to collect a 5 percent interest charge for customers who enroll in the deferral plan, the exorbitant rate increases remain inevitable. Tyler should appeal this decision and do everything in his power to force state lawmakers to take action.

Resolution 05-0005R Termination of Employees Assigned to Light Duty—Adding Insult to Injury Requests that the city’s director of human resources (and other agency heads) inform the City Council regarding policies surrounding the assignment of workers injured on the job to “light duty” work until they recover or become eligible for full retirement benefits.

Public Interest Grade: B Following numerous complaints from employees in a variety of city departments, the City Council wishes to protect those injured on the job from early termination or unfair treatment. The city should protect the rights of public employees who are legitimately injured while serving citizens. A thorough evaluation of pertinent policies and relevant contract language would help the city fairly implement this program.

City Council Quote of the Week

“That’s not the way for any public entity to operate.” —City Council Vice President Stephanie Rawlings Blake (D-6th District), challenging the appropriateness of the Public Service Commission’s recent session addressing impending rate hikes. Even though it was one of the most important issues the PSC has faced in several years, the commission seemed content to exclude the public from the discussions by holding its public meeting on the matter at 2 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon—a time when a large portion of BGE’s working-class customers would not be able to attend.

City Council Fact of the Week

Last issue’s Fact of the Week explained how, after a “first reading,” a City Council bill is sent to committee to consider agency recommendations and take public testimony. Depending on the subject matter of the bill, there are a number of committees and subcommittees that may address it. The following is a list of the seven City Council committees (related subcommittees are named in parentheses): 1) Budget and Appropriations (Labor); 2) Education, Housing, Health, and Human Services; 3) Executive Appointments; 4) Judiciary and Legislative Investigations (Public Safety); 5) Land Use and Transportation (Highways and Franchises); 6) Taxation and Finance (Economic Development and Public Financing); and 7) Urban Affairs (Aging). Council members serve in various capacities on multiple committees.

Next City Council meeting: May 8 at 5 p.m.

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