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Elected officials should stand up and be counted [editorial]

Elections

In the imaginary "Big Book of Cliches," Harford County Councilman Joe Woods has made a good case in recent days to have his face next to the entry for the phrase, "Talk is cheap."

Speaking last week at a regular meeting of the Fallston Community Council, the councilman expressed a strong willingness for Harford County to take on the State of Maryland over a requirement that the county levy a per-property fee to pay for stormwater management.

The subject of the stormwater fee, because of its many flaws, has been critiqued at some length on this page. The matter at hand in this instance, however, has nothing to do with the particulars of the fighting words. The issue here is that Councilman Woods doesn't seem to understand that the time to stand up and be counted on the issue already had passed, and he was counted a few days prior to talking tough on a court battle with the other side.

Councilman Woods, who represents Fallston and a portion of Joppa, was quoted in this newspaper as telling the Fallston Community Council on April 18: "Quite honestly, I would have been OK with going to court and taking this all the way through."

Two days previous to that, however, though his comments were in opposition to enacting the fee, his actions spoke louder. In voting for the Harford County version of the stormwater fee, he was quoted saying: "As much as I want to get rid of this thing completely, and I think we should, I'll vote to support this."

The unfortunate reality is Councilman Woods' decision to vote for something, even as he is speaking out rather strongly against it, is the kind of action that erodes faith in the American political system.

Those who hold political office should fight for what they believe in, which means making the best deal possible given the circumstances, or vehemently opposing the legislation, if the best deal possible is still unpalatable.

If a compromise is reached, celebrate the great tradition that makes American representative democracy possible. If not, vote no.

Don't vote one way and then go around saying it was the wrong thing to do.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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