The Washington Post

Pr. George’s Council votes not to override Baker veto

The Prince George’s County Council voted Tuesday against an override of the first veto of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

The council voted 7 to 1, with one abstention, to sustain the veto of a bill that would have allowed a government examiner to make binding rulings in condominium and homeowner association disputes.

Council member Leslie Johnson (D-Mitchellville), who sponsored the bill, was the lone member to vote for the override. Council member Karen Toles (D-Suitland) abstained.

According to county rules, the council must consider whether it wants to override a veto at the first legislative session after the veto.

The bill was originally passed unanimously in June. Baker vetoed the it last week, saying that the county, which faces budget woes, could not afford the program at this time.

At the time, a Baker spokesman said Johnson’s guilty plea to destroying evidence earlier this month as part of a federal corruption probe did not play a role in his decision to veto the bill.

But two council members said Tuesday that they wondered whether money was the only reason for the veto.

Toles said she did not clearly understand Baker’s decision. “It was my understanding that funding was put in the budget,” she said. “I’m not convinced that money was the issue.”

Council member Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington) said he didn’t think finances were the main reason for the veto, but he voted to sustain the override anyway.

Patterson later said he thinks that Johnson’s legal status also played a role in Baker’s decision.

He said a number of residents wrote letters in support of the measure, and he hopes the council will reconsider it at a later time.

Johnson did not comment before her vote. After the session, she darted out of the back door of the committee hearing room, evading reporters. Tuesday was Johnson’s second appearance at work since her resignation.

Brad Frome, deputy chief of staff for Baker, told the council that the bill “is a great idea, we just need the revenue structure to pay for it.”

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.


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