Bill next heads to full Council on Nov.8 for immediate adoption.
BALTIMORE, MD – In an effort to shine a light on the dealings of Baltimore’s government, the City Council’s Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee voted tonight to approve Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s measure to televise proceedings from the Board of Estimates, Board of Municipal Zoning Appeals and Liquor Board, which represent three of the city’s most influential decision-making bodies.
Most citizens are kept in the dark about decisions made by these powerful boards – which rule on everything from zoning changes to the awarding of multi-million dollar construction contracts – because they are not currently televised, and the meetings often take place during the day when people are at work.
“Tonight’s vote sends a clear and unmistakable signal that this Council is focused on government transparency in a tangible way,” Council President Young said. “My Transparency and Accountability Bill (TAB) will help to ensure that Baltimoreans have a seat at the decision-making table and are not merely relegated to the sidelines,” Young added.
Monday’s hearing included supportive testimony from a host of prominent experts from local universities, and dozens of community associations and residents.
Constitutional Law Professor Byron L. Warnken, a prominent expert who has worked extensively on government transparency, said that Council President Young’s bill represented an essential tool in educating the general public on government proceedings.
"Whatever we can do to gain the trust of the public is a plus," said Professor Warnken, a law professor at the University of Baltimore. "It's a no-brainer when you educate the public and gain their support. In order to have a functioning government, we need to have educated people in that process."
The Council President’s TAB will appear before the full council during its next scheduled meeting on November 8, 2010, at 5 p.m.
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