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Harford County Council passes resolution requesting more access to executive branch employees, information

The Harford County Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday asking the county administration to give council members more open access to executive branch employees.

The resolution requests that the council be able to directly contact employees of the executive branch for the purpose of asking questions — not giving orders, which is prohibited by the charter.

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Council members said the county executive froze them out from speaking with executive branch officials who they had been able to contact with questions before the appointment, which was approved despite the majority of votes being cast against it. Harford County’s charter requires a supermajority of five of the seven councilmembers to reject a county executive’s appointment.

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Councilman Robert Wagner said the resolution does not compel the county administration to do anything, but it sends a message that the council and executive branch need to work better together. He hoped the resolution would be a fresh start between the two branches of local government.

“As you all know, a resolution really does not have any teeth," Wagner said, “but it does, I think, make the point very clear to the executive branch that we all stand in lockstep with the need for flow of information and access to departments and department heads.”

Cindy Mumby, a spokesperson for the Glassman administration, said the county executive was only abiding by the charter, which states that “formal communications from the Council to the Executive Branch shall be addressed to the County Executive, and neither the Council nor any member thereof shall give orders either publicly or privately to any subordinate of the County Executive.”

“We have said all along, just ask for the information you need,” Mumby said. “The county executive is the boss, and so what they have the opportunity to do is contact the boss directly.”

The council members said they are not giving orders — just asking questions of knowledgeable county officials. The resolution contends that both branches of government deserve equal access to information for the performance of their duties, which will better serve county residents.

“The current state of affairs between the Executive and Legislative branches is not conducive to effective representation of the citizens of Harford County and they have the right to expect collegiality between the respective branches of government rather than the current antagonism,” the resolution states.

The county council’s most important duty is the approval of the annual budget, where much of its power as the county’s legislative branch of government resides. After the hearing, Wagner said the resolution’s request is about the only thing the county can do to enjoin cooperation from the executive branch.

“That is about the best way to demonstrate,” he said. “I would hope that they would come to some kind of understanding.”

Wagner, along with councilmen Tony Giangiordano, Andre Johnson and Curtis Beulah voted against Lloyd’s confirmation in September. Lloyd faced a tough nomination process but was ultimately confirmed as director of administration despite a 4-3 vote against him.

At two hearings, council members questioned Lloyd’s qualifications for the job overseeing the county, as well as the possible political motivations behind his appointment — believing it served erstwhile director of administration Billy Boniface’s governmental ambitions more than it did citizens of the county. Boniface has made clear his intentions to run for county executive in 2022.

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