A Howard County councilman has decided that debate on a legislative resolution against a possible war in Iraq he intended to introduce this week could cause "unnecessary acrimony" among County Council members.
Councilman David A. Rakes, an east Columbia Democrat, said yesterday he plans to present an honorary proclamation opposing potential military action during a county public hearing instead of introducing a resolution on which council members would vote.
The hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed until today because of the inclement weather.
"I made the decision based on the reaction from the council and from other people," he said. No council debate, public testimony or vote would be required for such a proclamation, Rakes said.
The proclamation is "my attempt to cite these people for standing and raising their voices against this war," Rakes said. It would support the effort against the war and "encourage the people who were really working hard to speak up and be heard."
But that is not the goal of the Howard County Coalition Against War, a group of social action organizations such as Patapsco Friends Meeting, Howard County Green Party and Howard County Friends of Latin America.
"We're not doing this because we seek to be honored," said Sherri Morgan, the former clerk of the Friends meeting who drafted the proposed resolution. "We're doing this because we want citizens to share their views."
"We're seeking a full public hearing," Morgan said. "We think that's what will provide a substantive opportunity for citizens to speak out, to put their views and concerns on the record. An honorary resolution really doesn't do any of those things."
Rakes talked with or heard from about 35 community leaders in his district who were against the war and would support a proclamation, he said. He received a few negative comments about his position, but he said the majority of responses were positive.
Rakes said he is very much opposed to military action because of the negative effects it could have on Howard County. But he explained that the council faces many issues this year, including the budget crunch.
"What we need is a team spirit to address these issues," Rakes said. "It was my leadership position to do what was right for the county."
Since he first announced his plan to offer a resolution, Rakes said he heard from all the councilmen and others.
"I was not able to convince them to support a legislative resolution," he said. "Each man wanted to proceed in this manner in his own way."
Council Chairman Guy Guzzone, a Savage-North Laurel Democrat, noted in a phone interview yesterday, "We do very few resolutions that in some way we don't have a direct impact or policy relationship to, and I'm generally inclined not to do those kinds of resolutions because I think they can bog the council down."
Leslie Salgado, a Columbia resident and chairwoman of the Howard County Friends of Latin America, said the coalition against war will continue to lobby the councilmen. They plan to collect signatures at the library for a petition on Saturday and March 1.
"We thought that if we can show there is a massive presence and wide representation" the group could convince the council to introduce the resolution, she said. "Sometimes the people lead the leaders."