Alderwoman Cynthia Abney Carter said she didn't think her resolution supporting Annapolis High School Principal Deborah Williams would be controversial.
But after three public hearings and hours of impassioned public testimony about the merits and flaws of Williams, the school's embattled first-year principal, Carter came to a different conclusion.
"Guess it is," the Annapolis city council member said, sighing.
The resolution backing Williams, a hard-charging educator whose style has divided the school community, is proving to be controversial on another level. It has annoyed some council members, who say that Carter has strayed from a council member's role by supporting Williams, an Anne Arundel County employee, in a personnel matter.
It's not the first time that Carter, a second-term council member, has taken a nontraditional approach to her job. She introduced a resolution last year stating the city's opposition to the war in Iraq. The bill was not passed.
"I'm presuming she doesn't understand what the function of a city council is," said Alderman David H. Cordle Sr. "This is a waste of time."
But others point out that the city council has a long history of weighing in on matters that have little to do with filling potholes or balancing the budget. Over the years, council members have tried to bar local banks from investing in South Africa, to ban nuclear weapons from the city and close legal loopholes that allow murder suspects to get out of jail.
Carter, a Democrat, was first elected in 1997 when she successfully waged a write-in campaign for the Ward 6 seat vacated by Wayne Turner. She became the first African-American woman to serve on the council, and was re-elected four years later.
While Carter has long been one of the council's most outspoken members, her latest resolution has made several council members uneasy because it focuses only on Williams.
"It's not our business," said Alderman Michael W. Fox, echoing the sentiments of several council members.
Others fear the council is spending too much time on legislation with a liberal bent.
Carter introduced an unsuccessful bill that would have banned real-looking toy guns in the city after a 7-year-old boy was charged last spring with using one to try to rob a video store. The city was skewered on conservative talk shows during the toy gun debate.
The council is scheduled to vote on the Williams resolution Jan. 12.