Thank you for a lively, well-attended Town Hall meeting this past week. I will aim to post some of the results from our “dot voting” on Ward 7 priorities, which I presented on, at a future date.
At our next Council meeting this Monday, the Mayor will be giving his State of the City address, as well as introducing his fiscal year 2020 budget. Of note is that the Mayor is proposing to dissolve our Office of Environmental Policy. Not for any kind of cost savings, but purely because he feels it’s the best organizational move. As you can guess, I’m adamantly opposed to this idea, which would be an enormous step backwards, has zero support in the environmental community, and was done with no analysis, and no engagement with the community. This “go it alone” pattern of behavior is one that I hope the Mayor shifts away from soon. This is why I have introduced my own competing Ordinance that would create a Department of the Environment at virtually no cost to the City (except for one position promotion). I put this together after much deliberation with the community, staff, and another Environmental Department Director outside of the City. If you wanted to comment on this, you are welcome to do so during the general public comment period towards the beginning of the meeting, otherwise it will have dedicated public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Council at a later date. More on this below.
I will also be trying to add a discussion to the agenda about the lawsuit against big pharmaceutical companies regarding the opioid crisis, which you may have read in the newspaper. While I generally support such lawsuits, I would need to learn more before being comfortable with a City of our size and means participating. What I’m more concerned about is the process: the lack of transparency and the marginalization of the Council. I’m both disturbed and disappointed by this.
Next meeting on Sector Study
At the next Environmental Matters Committee meeting on April 17th 3pm, we will be discussing specific environmental amendments and recommendation to make to the Eastport-Forest Drive Sector Study. The public is welcome to attend and I’ll be sure to give you some time to speak.
Next Council meeting -4/8/19 (agenda)
Legislation on First Reader (i.e. introduction)
- Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget - As I mentioned above, the Mayor will be introducing his FY20 budget. I will provide details once I have them.
- CA-2-19 & O-12-19 - I don’t know the details yet, but I believe these would both lead to the dissolution of the Office of Environmental Policy, given that the Charter Amendment was called just that. As I understand it, the proposal would be to send the Office of Environmental staff to other Departments and make the Director, Jackie Guild, simply an advisor to the Mayor.
- CA-6-19 & O-18-19 - Department of the Environment - This is sponsored by myself, Alderman Arnett, and Alderman Rodriguez. Our proposal is to create an Annapolis Department of the Environment. We propose to move regulatory authority and staff for core environmental programs (sediment control, environmental compliance, stormwater management, forest conservation) to the new Department. As we have seen over the past two years, operating under the current model with the Office of Environmental Policy, the implementation of our policies is hampered by them not having the regulatory authority. That’s why you had an instance where the Crystal Spring developers attempted to take advantage of a mistake Planning & Zoning made in implementing our “No net loss of forests” law, claiming that they had to do zero reforestation when proposing to remove 30 acres of forest. That would likely not have happened under a focused Department of the Environment. I’ll post more on this legislation in the future.
- O-1-19 - Fair Housing - Protected Classes - For the purpose of adding protected classes to the Annapolis Fair Housing laws and including additional unlawful housing practices; and generally relating to Fair Housing. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation.
- O-10-19 - I haven’t dug into this yet, but it reportedly establishes procedures for requests under the Maryland Public Information Act. It is substantially the same as the model ordinance found at Maryland Public Information Act Manual (14th ed., October 2015) Appendix E-1.
Legislation up for a final vote
- R-13-19 - This Resolution simply authorizes our Department of Transportation to submit a grant application to the Maryland Department of Transportation. Pending any comments from you, I intend to vote in favor of this legislation.
Effective April 1, the City of Annapolis (and Anne Arundel County) will no longer accept plastic bags, film plastic, and plastic wrap in curbside recycling pickup. Bins that include plastic bags, film plastic, and plastic wrap will be rejected, tagged and left behind. Residents will then need to separate the plastic bags, film plastic, and plastic wrap for refuse and return the recycling bin to the curb the following week with all items for recycling loose in the container.