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Annapolis City Council to debate ordinances for a 12th city holiday, resolution condemning U.S. Capitol insurrection

The Annapolis City Council on Monday will seek public input on four bills, including one to establish a 12th city holiday recognizing Maryland’s new constitution that abolished slavery and another to condemn a former U.S. president for his role in an attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

The council does not have a legislative agenda this week. Those are confined to regular meetings held during the first meeting of the month. The general public is encouraged to weigh in on these bills or any other topic by submitting written or video testimony on the city’s website, annapolis.gov.

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Here is an overview of the four bills:

R-1-21

This resolution condemns former President Donald Trump and the mob of his supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol building two weeks ago in a failed insurrection attempt that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. For weeks before the violent clash on Jan. 6, Trump lied about the 2020 election results, saying he won rather than losing. He left office on Wednesday when Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president. The U.S. House of Representatives swiftly impeached him following the attack. Ten Republicans joined Democrats, making it the most bipartisan impeachment in history.

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Some City Council members sought to hear from the public about the resolution before passing it. Most notably, Alderman Ross Arnett, D-Ward 8, questioned if the council should be weighing in on a national matter that didn’t impact the city.

The resolution’s sponsor, Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, D-Ward 5, said he plans to make a motion to suspend the rules to pass the resolution at Monday’s meeting. He would need all nine voting members to vote in favor of the motion.

“I think my colleagues will grant me that courtesy,” he said.

O-51-20

Another Schandelmeier-sponsored bill, O-51-20, would create a city holiday dubbed Maryland Emancipation Day on Nov. 1 in honor of Maryland adopting a new state constitution that abolished slavery on the same day in 1864.

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If enacted, the day would be the 12th city holiday, according to a city memo. A fiscal note drafted by the Finance Office found the city would lose approximately $216,000 in “productive work hours” as well as another $11,400 attributed to paying essential workers who are required to work on holidays.

Schandelmeier said he would consider replacing an existing holiday or making it a day of observation instead.

O-49-20

This ordinance would put an end to the practice of establishing areas in the city known as drug-loitering free zones, where police officers could order people to leave or make arrests if they were suspected of drug-related activity.

The practice was outlawed in the city two decades after the NAACP successfully argued in court that it was unconstitutional. However, despite that ruling, the language remained in the City Code for years until November, when a resolution was introduced to establish one of the zones in the Clay Street area. A resident made the request following a string of crimes, including a quadruple shooting.

O-50-20

This ordinance is meant to clean up language in City Code related to O-21-19, sponsored by Schandelmeier’s predecessor, Marc Rodriguez. The bill strengthened the city’s moderately-priced dwelling unit laws, which require new developments to include more affordable units in their plans and extended the occupancy period.

Other business

Also on Monday’s agenda, the city plans to recognize Annapolis Fire Department Captain John Muhitch for organizing the 2020 Annapolis Santa Run, which was held virtually.

Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, said he plans to honor Teresa Williams, owner of Gateway Florist and Academy Flowers, who died suddenly last Monday at the age of 57.

Williams was a community linchpin who championed many causes, including repairing the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. She was a long-time supporter of the Naval Academy and provided floral arrangements to many events at the service academy.

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