Cecil County Commish OK Broomell Bid to Give New Ethics Panel Members’ Priority
The Cecil County Commissioners endorsed, by the usual Three Amigos majority vote Tuesday, a proposal by Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) to give longer terms of service to three new members of the county Ethics Commission, in a do-over of a vote taken months ago.
The action amounted to yet another “do-over” of a previous Board decision, made 12/6/11, to expand the ethics panel to five members with three new members and two re-appointments. At that time, the expiration dates of individual members’ terms were specified in the resolution adopted by the Commissioners, including Broomell.
But last week, Broomell sought an immediate do-over vote because she now wants to give the longest terms of service to the newest members. However, she was directed to put her proposal in writing before action was taken. So she did that for Tuesday’s morning worksession meeting and then pushed it to an immediate vote– instead of waiting for a public introduction of the plan at an evening meeting so citizens could be aware of it and comment, as proposed by Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5), as “a matter of transparency.”
Eventually, Hodge abstained from the vote, and Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2) opposed the move, saying she questioned why there was such a rush to push the change through now. However, Broomell was joined by her usual allies, Commissioners James Mullin (R-1) and Michael Dunn (R-3) to push the plan through to immediate adoption.
At issue was extending the terms of service of the three newest members of the ethics panel: Valerie Falconi, a longtime friend of Broomell and a Republican who assists her in ‘research’ and political endeavors; Bruce Hemphill, a Democrat and Elkton lawyer who rents office space from Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) and contributes to his campaigns; and Walt Rozanski, an unaffiliated voter who has attended commissioner worksessions with Falconi.
Under the previously approved action, Falconi’s term was to expire 12/6/13; Rozanski’s term was to expire 12/6/12, and Hemphill’s term was to expire 12/6/14. The newly adopted county ethics code provides for staggered terms of service of commission members.
However, Broomell wanted to give them longer tenure so she pushed through the change to give all three new appointees terms that would expire 12/6/15. Broomell’s current county commissioner/ council term expires in 2014 so her preferred appointees would serve beyond that date. Broomell is also a candidate for County Executive in this year’s election.
To accomplish her objective, Broomell also cut the term of service for one re-appointed member, Jason Allison, an attorney and a Democrat, whose term was set to expire 12/6/15. But Broomell cut it by two years, to 12/6/13. Allison helped re-write the new county ethics code. Another re-appointee, Diana Gillig, retained an expiration date of 12/6/13.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to wait,” Broomell said in advancing her motion for an immediate vote on her do-over proposal. She said she was unaware of the terms of service specified when the original vote was taken.
Moore said the terms of the appointees were “very clearly stated” in the resolution adopted in December, and she waved the documents presented at the meeting in Broomell’s direction.
Hodge noted that it was against the Commissioners’ policies to introduce something and then vote on it at the same meeting. He urged introducing the proposal at an evening meeting so citizens could comment and then voting on it at a subsequent evening meeting.
Mullin declared that last week’s worksession, at which Broomell made her verbal demand, “was a public meeting and this is like a public meeting” and he let Broomell proceed to a vote on her do-over motion.
Broomell has been working to re-write the new county ethics code since its adoption last year and has demanded do-overs on multiple provisions. Her efforts have consumed many hours of Commissioner worksessions and frequently triggered heated exchanges with fellow commissioners.