Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan attacked the county school board, the area planning agency and the sanitary commission yesterday for using county money to influence legislation in Annapolis that he opposes.
Hogan asked the County Council to prohibit the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission and the school board from using county funds to lobby in the legislature.
"I have become increasingly disturbed over the lobbying efforts [of the three agencies]," Hogan wrote. "In several instances, their vigorous behind-the-scenes lobbying activities have been directed either toward the defeat of bills endorsed by the county government or the enactment of legislation opposed by the executive and the council."
The letter to the council released yesterday by Hogan was the latest in a series of public attacks the county executive has launched against the school board, political interest groups, fellow politicians and the bicounty agencies.
County officials said that the rationale behind Hogan's proposal was that county government agencies should not lobby against the policies agreed upon by the leaders of their own government. The school board had frequently opposed Hogan and the council on legislation in the General Assembly.
Predictably, however officials of the three agencies disagreed with Hogan's idea, and several officials cast doubt on its legal legitimacy. School spokesman John Aubuchon issued a statement that said that the school board "as a body elected by the voters of Prince George's County," has "the responsibility to recommend to the General Assembly such legislation as will best serve the educational needs of children."
"Certainly it would not be appropriate to have the views and the education judgments of the elected Board of Education filtered through . . . other elected officials whose duties are unrelated to education," the statement said.
WSSC General Manager Robert S. McGarry conceded that WSSC staff had lobbyied against a bill favored by the council and Hogan that would have placed new restrictions on the WSSC budget. The bill was eventually defeated. "But we're a bicounty agency," he said. "The Montgomery delegation opposed that bill."
"We're too damn busy to go down there and lobby people in the hallways," McGarry said. "We only testify on bills when we're requested to by the delegations."
Even if the council were to agree with Hogan's plan to curb the lobbying efforts of the agencies, it would be difficult to impose the restriction on the bicounty commissions, according to council administrator Samuel Wynkoop.