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The Baltimore Sun

Harford council to return to Black Box soon

The Harford County Council is getting set to move back to its original "Black Box" location sometime this summer.

Council members approved a letter to Harford County Executive David Craig at their Tuesday meeting, requesting that he allow the council to return to the building at 212 S. Bond St.

The council has not set a date, but hopes to return around the start of summer, to the second floor, Councilman Dion Guthrie said.

Not all of the council members are enthusiastic about the decision. Council President Billy Boniface abstained from the vote, saying he would leave it up to the council.

"It really doesn't matter to me whether we remain where we are or we move back here, as long as the legislative needs are being met," he said.

Boniface explained that when discussions of the move began, the council was in the middle of its budget season and working on other issues.

"I had enough on my plate, and the council administrator, also," he said.

Two other council members, Mary Ann Lisanti and Dick Slutzky, defended the planned move.

"I really do believe we moved over to our temporary headquarters literally overnight," Lisanti said. "We've made do with the situation and I don't think any of us really care about our personal space."

Lisanti said the space they're in is not handicap-accessible and has no parking at all.

"We've had a lot of concerns as far as our elderly and handicapped visitors," she said, adding that it has been challenging to move the council's items and equipment around.

"It takes a tremendous time and effort just to physically move us," she said.

Slutzky, meanwhile, said it is crucial for the council offices to look impressive, citing the example of the Port Authority building on the water in New York City.

"You're looking at a building that is absolutely magnificent. It is one of the premier buildings in the United States. The architecture, the design, is just phenomenal," Slutzky said, explaining that everyone who came to New York in older generations came by ship.

"The grandeur and magnificence of that building set their expectations at that time for America," Slutzky said. "This council has an opportunity to be back in a facility that I think will provide the appropriate presentation of a professional and adroit council organization."

"I believe it's very difficult for us to operate as a professional council in a building that's hard to get to, hard to park at and doesn't have the presentation that this is a class operation," he said.

Tornado help

Some council members noted the impressive work fire and emergency service providers did during Friday's tornado around Route 1 in Fallston.

Joe Woods said: "Six and a half hours we cleaned up a major disaster in the Fallston area - pretty impressive."

Jim McMahan also applauded Woods for representing "firefighters over the entire U.S." inWashington, D.C.Tuesday.

He also calculated how, for 6 1/2 hours, Harford County received more than $25,000 worth of manpower from "qualified" providers.

McMahan said he knows the fire and EMS service has come under fire in recent months, but said their work during the tornado shows their effectiveness.

"Folks, that's not a broke system, no way," he said. "The fire and EMS system deserves all the accolades they can this week."

Slutzky agreed, saying: "In a time of need, we can depend on our volunteers."

'Fifty Shades'

McMahan also spoke about Harford County Public Library's somewhat controversial decision not to buy the sexually explicit "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy.

He said he is glad some people recognize erotica and "smut," and pointed out that the book's publisher, not the library system, labeled it as erotica.

He applauded the library board and director for not wasting his taxpayer dollars buying that kind of material.

If people want to read "Fifty Shades," they can buy it, McMahan said, but "we the taxpayers of Harford County are not required to buy it for you, either."

Graduations

Some congratulations went out to the newly minted graduates of 2012, as the commencement season gets under way.

Lisanti said: "It's always impressive to see the graduating classes and their speeches and their perspectives on life. It's always renewing."

Guthrie also mentioned the first graduation of the baccalaureate program at Edgewood High School, which he said was "very impressive" and the first of its kind in the county and "probably" the state.

"When you see 20 young people like this, you know our county and our next citizens and our next adults... are really in good hands," he said, adding that all of them are going to college and 18 of the 20 are attending different colleges around the U.S.

"They certainly have some impressive resumes," he said.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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