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Councilmania

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

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 8/20/2008

On the Agenda for Aug. 11

08-0185--Non-Owner-Occupied Dwellings-Registration The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Belinda Conaway (7th District), would expand the current law requiring registration of rental units to include the names of the lease holders and the last four digits of their driver's license numbers. "When we have problem homes in the community, we start by looking up the owner," Conaway says. But just as important is knowing who the residents are--or who they are supposed to be. So under Conaway's bill, she says, "you could go on the internet and find out who is legally supposed to be in the home."

The Story: Actually, the bill specifies that the tenant registry would not be a public record. Under the bill as drafted, only neighbors residing within "a 1 block radius" of the property (or the neighborhood association) would be allowed to look this up, and then only by written request.

08-0184 "Dumpsters"--Registration and Regulation This bill would require every new trash receptacle larger than half a cubic yard or 90 gallons to be registered with the city, its owner and operator kept on file, and to have a "medallion" affixed to it.

The Story: Bill sponsor Warren Branch (13th District) says many of his constituents and public works inspectors have dealt with roll-off containers illegally left on city streets. These containers do not have a company name or a phone number on them, so they can't be traced. "So their owners profit from people doing demolition work and then dump them in other areas," he says. This regulation would allow the city to tow these away, like abandoned vehicles, and presumably fine the violator.

08-0046 Firearms--Reporting Theft or Loss The City Council passed this bill, which proposes a $250 fine for anyone careless enough to "forget" to report a stolen gun within 48 hours of the theft (Councilmania, Feb. 20). As Councilman James Kraft (1st District) explained when he introduced the bill, the idea is to be able to better track guns used in crimes.

The Story: As if on cue, the National Rifle Association has alerted its members to this alleged hardship, claiming the ordinance violates the Maryland law that says the state has sole authority to regulate firearms. The NRA claims the city's ordinance "victimizes lawful gun owners for the actions of criminals," and asks its members to contact Mayor Sheila Dixon to urge her to veto it. But why would a "lawful gun owner" not report his or her gun stolen?

City Council Fact of the Week

Longtime city zoning administrator Donald Small died on Aug. 2.

City Council Quote of the Week

"Fritze will be frisky . . . May the gentleman from Baltimore rock USA Today." --from "An Ode to Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze," a poem read by all council members. Fritze attended his last council meeting Aug. 11, before beginning his new job at USA Today.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8 at 5 p.m.

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