Anne Arundel County Council Votes Down Proposed PIA, Pension Charter Amendments

A Capital Gazette article (2016-07-05) reported that the Anne Arundel County Council has rejected to proposed charter amendments that would: (1) have altered what information is subject to public access; and (2) repealed the County’s Pension Oversight Commission. Both charter amendments had been proposed by County Executive Steve Schuh. In rejecting the proposed public access charter amendment, the Council first had to pass a resolution offered by Council Member Chris Trumbauer. Trumbauer’s resolution allowed the Council to consider proposed charter amendments at any time before they are certified for the ballot. Previously, the Council could only overturn a proposed charter amendment at their next meeting and the time for considering the public access charter amendment had already passed. From the article:

The County Council voted Tuesday to overturn Resolution 13-16, which some former county officials said could have restricted public access to certain government records, such as pre-decisional memos between the county executive and his staff. …

Under current charter language, “any books, accounts, papers and records” are open to inspection except for criminal investigation reports, individual personnel records and legal documents that are related to an ongoing case. County attorneys had recommended replacing that section with a line stating the county adopted the state’s Public Information Act instead.

Officials from County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration have maintained that the amended language was a housekeeping change aimed at modernizing the charter. Former county officials, including past County Attorney David Plymyer, Councilman Jamie Benoit and Auditor Teresa Sutherland, argued the state’s public information access law allows for more documents to be withheld.

The Council also rejected Schuh’s amendment to repeal the County’s Pension Oversight Commission. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the County administration argued that the Overisight Commission’s role was redundant to the County’s Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees. The chair of the Oversight Commission opposed Schuh’s proposal. From the article:

Council members agreed [with the Oversight Commission’s chair], voting 4-3 to preserve the commission. Councilmen Derek Fink, John Grasso and Michael Peroutka voted to send the question to the ballot, but were overruled.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Anne Arundel Pension Oversight Commission Amendment