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

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 3/3/2010

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

On the Agenda Feb. 22

Bernard C. "Jack" Young's first meeting as City Council President took a slower pace than some in the past, either by accident or design. Young actually paused for audible roll call votes on several issues. Despite the council's tradition of baffling speed, some might think it's time well-spent.

Bill 10-0450 City Streets--Snow Plowing Status.

Requires the city Department of Transportation to make certain information available to the public during a snow emergency.

The Read: The bill would require Department of Transportation officials to designate a special "snow page" on the department's web site that lists every city street with a priority order for plowing, a map of the routes assigned to each city plow, and a map indicating in real time which streets have been plowed. It would also require GPS tracking devices to be installed on every city plow truck (some have them already). Councilman Bill Henry (D-4th District) paired his bill with a resolution calling for an informational hearing (see below) that Councilman William Cole (D-11th District) sponsored. Henry says his bill is meant to show people they're all in the same boat, since early in the last storm the word went out, falsely, that most city streets had been plowed, which gave snowbound citizens the impression that they were "left out."

Resolution 10-0191R Informational Hearing--Response to the February 2010 Winter Storms.

Requests the heads of city agencies . . . to explain themselves.

The Read: Councilman Cole says he wants this hearing not to chastise anyone, but to make sure everyone understands definitions such as "primary road" and study other cities' "best practices." Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo (D-2nd District) asks that sanitation services be included in the discussion, since trash and recycling pick-up were suspended after the storm. He also laments the loss of former Transportation Deputy Director Anthony Wallnofer and other experienced people. Wallnofer resigned in 2008 after The Baltimore Sun discovered he had bought a boat that had been seized and sold in a city auction, in violation of conflict-of-interest rules he had written.

Resolution 10-0192R Informational Hearing--Baltimore City Housing Inspectors--Response Time.

Asks that the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Code Enforcement brief the council on the city's Building Permit Center and QuickTrac permit-scheduling phone system.

The Read: Councilwoman Helen Holton (D-8th District) says she has heard complaints from constituents about the system, and told the story of one man who, she says, called repeatedly for building inspections, but got none. He completed a home renovation and still hasn't gotten inspected, she says.

Bill 09-0261 Land Bank Authority.


The Read: This was a 20-page bill, more than a year in the making, to consolidate and streamline the hodgepodge of city government land-selling systems. It had support from the Baltimore Development Corporation, the Law Department, Recreation and Parks, and the Board of Ethics. Comptroller Joan Pratt opposed it, but the bill still looked to be on track until December, when council "work sessions" were suddenly postponed, first to Jan. 11, and then to Feb. 11, when the snows postponed it again. Then, it was withdrawn by request of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

City Council Quote of the Week

"The city has just been through, basically, a natural disaster. Perhaps if we named blizzards, people would take more seriously the damage they can do."--Councilman Bill Henry (D-4th District)

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