Election is history, but some still see sparks Date of orientation for council members puts Emery, Gray at odds


Government changeovers sometimes get pretty bloody. The Americans fought the British. The French stormed the Bastille.

And now, the Democrats are taking over Howard County. The election has passed, but some old foes are getting in their last digs.

Take the two starkly different accounts of a recent meeting on a seemingly innocuous topic -- an orientation session for council members -- between soon-to-be-former Council Administrator Christopher B. Emery, an active Republican, and Democratic Councilman C. Vernon Gray. The two men had a less-than-cordial relationship while the GOP held a 3-2 council majority the past four years, and Gray made no secret of his eagerness to oust Emery if the Democrats won back the majority.

Gray walked into Emery's office Monday morning to talk about Emery's scheduling of an orientation session Dec. 2. According to Emery, Gray said "loud enough for everyone in the office to hear" that he was the new chairman of the council and he would decide when the orientation took place.

"He was upset with me, but that's not unusual," said Emery, who resigned the day after the election, effective next month.

Emery said he responded that other arrangements had already been made for Dec. 2, including catering, and changing the date could be difficult.

"He said, 'That doesn't matter, I'm the chair, I'm changing it,' " Emery said. "And then he just stormed out."

Gray said he merely told Emery he should have given better notice to new council members after the Nov. 3 election. He said the orientation will be Dec. 2, as scheduled.

He acknowledged saying he would be the new chairman of the council, which should be formalized when the council, with its 3-2 Democratic majority, elects officers at its first meeting Dec. 7.

"Chris is history, so I don't need to talk about him," Gray said yesterday. "Why is he trying to trash me? As the Italians said, success is the sweetest revenge."

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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