Any time a Harford County Charter amendment is proposed, residents need to be wary and question its intent.
So it is that an amendment has been proposed to transfer oversight of county property acquisition and management from the director of procurement to the director of administration.
This is being sold as essentially a minor, housekeeping change by the administration of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, which introduced the amendment. Don't believe it.
It's up to the County Council to approve this, or any other proposed amendment and then place it on the general election ballot, where voters have the final say. One councilman noted last week that it seems like the administration is already doing what the amendment proposes, so why the need for the change?
Well, this is one that frankly doesn't pass the smell test because Director of Administration Billy Boniface is involved.
To refresh our readers' memories, Boniface had a penchant for using charter amendments to promote his own self-dealing aims during the latter years of his eight as County Council president, in particular, the 2012 amendment that removed the ban on county council members going to work for county government for two years after they leave the council.
Boniface wouldn't fess up to what he was trying to orchestrate then, nor has he come clean since. But, he did get the job everyone knew he was angling for once he left the council in 2014 – one he couldn't have without the charter being changed.
Boniface was also behind an amendment that passed in 2014 giving future county executives, Glassman and his successors, the right to hire and fire deputy department heads. Those positions had previously been protected by county civil service. Again, Boniface never owned up to the fact the change was being made to benefit him and Glassman when they took over running the county.
Finally, there was the proposed amendment, withdrawn after a great public hue and cry, that would have taken the County Council out of the process of having the final say in zoning cases. This change has long been wanted by rural landowners and developers for the obvious reason that a non-elected zoning authority will be less inclined to bend to public pressure in controversial cases. Though withdrawn before the final Boniface council ever voted on it, there's every reason to believe we haven't seen the end of this one.
In all three instances, voters were never told straight up by Boniface how he might personally gain from the amendments passing.
In sum, if Billy Boniface is angling to change the county charter, it's most likely good for him and bad business for citizens, no matter how innocuous the changes being proposed might otherwise be presented.