Prince George's County Council Chairman Francis White and Council member Frank P. Casula clashed this week over which of them would represent the county on the legislative committee of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO). Casula, who has held the MACO position for the past two years, demanded to know why he was "being removed from that job" after White appointed himself to the position.
"All this change," charged Casula, "is an attempt to enhance your career. I have shepherded a lot of county bills through MACO and I have a very good attendance record there."
White said his own appointment would lend the prestige of council chairman to the legislative position. "I don't want you to feel put down," White said to Casula. "I felt it important to bring to the association the weight of the chairmanship on decisions.I know each (of us) has a keen interest in this. I appreciate your work for the county, but there comes a time when the choice should be made."
It was the first public criticism over White's chairmanship that has surfaced in a council session since the chairmanship election in mid-December. At that time Casula supported council member Parris N. Glendening for chairman and abstained from voting for White in the election.
The MACO announcement came Tuesday during a routine presentation of committee appointments White released as part of his duties as the new chairman. The council, according to legislative rules, must approve the new positions, including appointments to council committees, various medical advisory committees, Council of Government appointments and state and bi-county appointments.
The MACO legislative committee members review and recommend county-oriented legislation that should be pushed during the next session of the General Assembly. Casula's challenge, which he said he raised because his name had already been formally presented as the Prince George's. County representative at the MACO annual meeting in December, was supported by council members Samuel Bogley and Francis B. Francois.
Bogley said his major concern about the White appointment was over "demands on time. I served on this committee once, and I know the meetings are every Wednesday," Bogley said. "I am concerned because of the requirements on time."
White, who was red-faced by the end of the meeting, said "any chiarman could handle the time."
White, who was red-faced by the end of the meeting, said "any chairman could handle the time" question and that he had considered this when he decided on the appointment.
The disagreement generally unnerved several council members who are used to working all the "problems" out behind closed doors or in private session. Council member Darlene Z. White said the appointments were "a prerogative of the chairman. I am concerned that if we are going to (continue) that discussion I request an executive session on a personnel issue."
William B. Amonett, the council's immediate past chairman, tried to tone down the criticism and asked that the whole list be sent back to the chairman and "have it reworked. It is up to each chairman to spread the appointments around, let everyone in. What disturbs me a little bit about the discussion here today is that I hope none of if would involve personalities. I caution members of the council on that."
It soon became obvious through the discussion, however, that White had the votes, and his appointments, along with the MACO position, were approved by members of the council, 7 to 3 (vice chairman Floyd Wilson was absent).
Francois, who is currently the chairman of MACO, said he voted against the appointments [WORD ILLEGIBLE] "I feel some issues are here that should be talked out. There have been challenges before, but it might have been useful to wait and slide things around a little bit."
But Francois said he didn't appreciate" Casula's public comments. "All 11 of us have political overtones to what we do, everything we do has political impact. But I'm not going to pretend there's not political mileage to behind in Annapolis."