The biggest special interests in the County are developers. It is in the best interest of the tax-payer if members of the County Council and County employees who are responsible for the execution and/or interpretation of major county policies are prohibited from being employed by such special interests for a meaningful amount of time.
Howard County's Public Ethics Law currently sets a one year period before which a former member of the County Council is allowed to represent special interests whose matter is "subject to legislative action".
We need to increase this cooling-off period to more than one year - a more reasonable time frame would be four years (equivalent to a Council term). We also need to scrutinize any exemption requests to prevent circumvention of the rules.
To the extent that the Council is responsible for approving the County's annual budget, it has a responsibility to ensure appropriate use of these funds. County departments should not serve as rubber stamps to special interest requests.
From time-to-time the County Council should hold public hearings to ask department heads some tough questions about department metrics, community concerns, and other relevant issues.
County departments have one client - the taxpayer. All actions should be made to protect the interests of the taxpayer and resident. To the extent that developers are the single biggest influence in the County, every effort should be made by the County to thwart such influence
A recent Audit found that the County spent $3.8 million in unreimbursed police overtime costs.
Recently, the County issued $90 million of free money to Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) in a boondoggle of a deal. The initial tax increment financing (TIF) structure was approved for public garages. The finalized deal re-categorized facilities that were initially classified as unqualified for a TIF.
The debate to repeal the Howard Hughes TIF bill uncovered several potential areas of waste. This deal needs to be audited.