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Young vetoes two changes to Baltimore’s charter, blasts ‘rushed, secretive’ council process

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young vetoed two changes to the city's charter, and blasted the City Council's "secretive" process that produced the proposals.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young vetoed two changes to the city's charter, and blasted the City Council's "secretive" process that produced the proposals.(Jerry Jackson / The Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young on Monday vetoed bills that would have made it easier for the City Council to override mayoral vetoes.

The Democratic mayor said the process of developing the changes was flawed, involving little input from experts or the public.

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City Council members have been debating proposed changes to the city’s charter for months, with the goal of modernizing the document that guides how the city conducts its business.

Young objected to two proposed changes that recently passed: One allowing the council to override mayoral vetoes with a two-thirds vote instead of a three-quarters vote, and another that extends the deadline for the council to vote on overriding vetoes in certain circumstances.

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The changes would need to be ratified by voters during the November general election.

Young criticized the council for pushing forward the proposals in a “rushed, secretive process” while the mayor and city are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I believe that our City Charter should change and adapt as our city rises to meet new challenges,” Young said in a statement Monday. “Those changes, however, must occur after genuinely engaging the people of Baltimore.”

Young twice wrote to Council President Brandon Scott criticizing the proposals, most recently last week.

Scott and Young are among the candidates vying in this year’s mayoral election.

Scott refuted Young’s description of the process as being rushed as secretive, noting there were multiple in-person meetings on the proposals before the pandemic swept into Maryland.

“We’re not rushing these at all. We followed the public process,” Scott said, noting that back in 2018, Young got a charter amendment bill introduced and passed all in one day when he was council president.

Councilman Bill Henry, who chairs the committee that reviewed the bills, also defended the process.

“If the Mayor believes this was, in his words, a ‘secretive’ process, then I guess it’s only a problem when he’s not getting what he wants,” Henry, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The matter now moves back to the City Council, which could vote to override the vetoes. The council doesn’t have another meeting scheduled within the 20-day window for veto overrides, so a special meeting would need to be called to attempt an override. Scott said he’ll consult with council members before deciding whether to call another meeting.

The council has until July to adopt any further charter amendments in time to get them on the fall ballot.

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Baltimore Sun reporter Talia Richman contributed to this article.

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