The City Council's nominating committee meets this afternoon to vote on a replacement to fill the seat vacated by Agnes Welch's retirement.

The forerunner for the seat is her son and longtime aide, William A. "Pete" Welch Jr. That has triggered a lot of controversy from those who say his record -- which includes guilty pleas to handgun charges for firing a pistol to disburse angry campaign workers and for failing to file his mother's campaign finance reports.

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At a hearing Tuesday, Welch said that he fired the gun by accident. But my colleague Laura Vozzella reports today that Welch told the police a different story in 1999 -- at that time, he said "I shot at the ground to restore order," according to court documents.

Yet most council members told Vozzella that they were leaning toward voting for Pete Welch. Their explanations were interesting, to say the least.

Council Vice-Presidend Ed Reisinger said, ""Anyone who's been arrested, especially when you're in the city of Baltimore — you know what I mean — are we going to disqualify them from employment?"

And Councilman Bobby Curran said his "long-term relationship with Agnes" would make it tough to not vote for Pete.

"You very rarely get to pay back people in politics for what they've done for you," Curran said.

Only Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said that she definitely planned to vote for one of Welch's challengers, who include a political science professor, a teacher and the head of a progressive nonprofit.

It will be interesting to see how council members vote this afternoon-- and what kind of response they will receive from their constituents.

Former Baltimore NAACP branch president Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham, community leaders Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon and Rev. Kinji Scott have all asked the council to change their procedures for appointing candidates to vacant seats.

I'll be at today's voting session. Jessica Anderson reported on Tuesday's hearing (I was home with the flu) and blogger and former City Council candidate Adam Meister wrote up interesting play-by-plays of the proceedings.

Incidentally, the nominating committee is comprised of the heads of all council committees and two appointees by Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young. The members are: Warren Branch, Mary Pat Clarke, Bill Cole, Belinda Conaway, Bobby Curran, Nick D'Adamo, Bill Henry, Jim Kraft, Sharon Middleton, Ed Reisinger and Carl Stokes.

The full council will vote on the nominee for the seat Monday.

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