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Thursday, February 25, 2010

PG delegates reject proposal by Sen. Muse to prevent community college board members from running for office

Delegates reject proposal for election restrictions; Subcommittee votes against keeping college board members from seeking office.
Gazette, 25 Feb 2010 (Valentine).
(see comment below)
Six Prince George's County delegates voted Feb. 18 to block a controversial proposal by state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Dist. 26) of Fort Washington that would further restrict who can seek elected office in Prince George's County.

The unanimous vote made by the county delegation's subcommittee could hinder passage of the proposed legislation, which would bar members of the Prince George's Community College Board of Trustees from running for an elected office while serving on the board.

The proposal sparked questions about interference by state leaders in county politics and raised questions about whether Muse was targeting critics of county leaders, such as Jerry Mathis, a Fort Washington resident who serves on the board and is running for the District 8 seat on the County Council. Mathis helped organize opposition to Muse's proposal last year to consider building a professional soccer stadium for D.C. United in the county, and Mathis has participated in several demonstrations against the County Council.

Mel Franklin, an Upper Marlboro resident who is also on the college's board and running for County Council in District 9, would also be hindered by the legislation. Franklin helped organize a demonstration against the County Council last year over new zoning regulations in the southern part of the county.

Del. Barbara Frush (D-Dist. 21) of Beltsville called the proposal "a silly bill."

"I don't believe it's up to us to determine who can run and who can't run," she said. "I don't really understand the premise of this bill."

Before the subcommittee's vote, the proposal received support from three County Council members.

"We know what it's about," said Councilman Samuel H. Dean (D-Dist. 6) after voting in favor of the bill Tuesday, along with Councilwoman Marilynn M. Bland (D-Dist. 9) of Clinton and Councilman Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel.

"I always like to support my senator," Dean said.

The three council members did not respond to a request for further comment.

Muse did not attend the subcommittee meeting and did not directly respond to requests for comment.

In a message relayed through his secretary, Muse said the bill is not killed until after the full House delegation votes it down. However, subcommittee members said the delegation is unlikely to reverse its unfavorable report.

"We need to be fair to other groups," said Del. Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-Dist. 24) of Mitchellville. "Let them have their rights."

Muse first proposed the bill in December. Under the proposal, sitting board members would not be allowed to hold positions on political committees, raise money for candidates or seek office.

Mathis and Franklin could not be reached for comment after the subcommittee's vote, but Mathis has said the legislation is targeted at him.

"This is just vindictiveness against me," he said last month.

Muse previously denied the bill targeted anyone.

"None of my bills are for political retribution," Muse said last month, explaining that he wanted lawmakers to consider imposing the restriction for the college's board at the same time a similar restriction imposed on the school board is being considered for removal.

A different bill is moving through the General Assembly to lift a ban on sitting school board members that prevents them from seeking other elected offices. School board members are asking the legislature to lift the ban in time for this fall's election.

"That would be consistent with [the subcommittee's] actions today," said Len Lucchi, lobbyist for the school board.
Comment: While I am not surprised by the anti-Democratic attitude of Sen. Muse (cand. for county executive), and council members Bland and Dean (cand. for county executive), I was very disappointed by Dernoga's (cand. for state's attorney) vote and apparent unwillingness to explain it.  And Muse is NOT Dean's senator.

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