The Prince George's County Council, in a carefully written resolution passed this week, urged the county executive to refuse to pay expenses for county employees who travel to conferences or conventions in states that have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
In the District of Columbia this week Mayor Walter E. Washington signed an executive order and the City Council passed emergency legislation preventing District employees from spending city money in non-ratifying states.
However, the Prince George's resolution was amended to exclude trips that are "necessary to protect and advance the vital interests of the county."
Council members Frank P. Casula and Samuel W. Bogley, who cast the two dissenting votes, said that travel restrictions should be imposed at the state level. "I see no reason why a county has to get involved," said Casula.
Bogley said he was not sure that economic pressure was the best method of producing support for the ERA.
"Why impose our position on them by an economic restraint," said Bogely. "I don't think it is fair. We are attacking people who don't have the vote in the state legislature."
Council member Francis B. Francois, who offered the qualifying amendment, said he thought an economic boycott was a "legitimate exercise. As a policy of government we support the ERA amendment, so we should do everything in our power to do those things that are right and proper to support it. Those hotel owners in Atlanta (Georgia has not ratified the ERA) hav more power in the Georgia legislature than I do. This will get people aroused."
And while a spokesperson for the county executive said "he would execute the policy of the council," several members said privately the resolution would have little impact on where they would travel.
"When something comes up in Atlanta," said Darlene White, "all of them (council members,) no matter how strongly they back this bill, they'll go."
Council member William B. Amonett, who has made several trips this year through his participation in land use and tourism committees, said, "If there is a meeting in one of those states, I'd go tomorrow."
But it was Daivd G. Hartlove who came up with possibly the best reason for voting on the resolution. His wife and four daughters promised him dinner in return for a "yea" vote.