The Montgomery County Council's vice president introduced a bill yesterday that would eliminate a major part of the work of the county's Ethics Commission, a panel that was in the center of a bitter controversy last month between the council and County Executive Charles Gilchrist.
Under the bill, county workers would no longer be required to gain approval for outside employment from the commission and would need the approval instead only of their immediate supervisors.
Hanna said the bill would bring the county in line with federal government practices and give the commission time for more demanding matters. He did not specify what duties he meant, but the commission also reviews conflict-of-interest cases, financial disclosures by certain county employes, and work by Montgomery County lobbyists.
Russell I. Brown, chairman of the five-member volunteer commission, said he had not seen Hanna's bill, but "an immediate supervisor could be involved in inappropriateness . . . . That's what the ethics law is all about."
Council member David Scull, who opposed Hanna's bill, said a majority of the commission's work consists of requests from county employes, "the most frequently reoccurring work problem." The commission turns down about 10 percent of its yearly requests, and "that's a serious governmental matter," Scull said.
In a sharp exchange last month, the council rejected two nominees submitted by Gilchrist for the ethics panel, including a woman who would have been the commission's first black member. Opponents of the appointments argued that the two vacancies had not been adequately advertised. Gilchrist later nominated two other persons.
In another action yesterday, the council gave final approval to a master plan for future development in the rural town of Boyds that included approval for a controversial stone quarry.
For several years, the town of 700 has been fighting efforts by Rockville Crushed Stone Inc. to open a 530-acre quarry west of the town, an area rich in diabase stone used in making cement and asphalt. The approved plan described the quarry as "suitable."
"Obviously I am disappointed by what the council did today," said Allan A. Noble, former president of the Boyds Civic Association and a leader in the battle against the quarry. But, Noble said, Boyds citizens had successfully defeated quarry plans in the area for 25 years and haven't given up. The proposal to develop the quarry must still be reviewed in zoning hearings scheduled for March.
The plan "does not recommend development of the site until certain noise, transportation and other operational criteria can be met -- including the shipment of all stone by rail."
Earlier plans by the Rockville Crushed Stone, which already owns the land, included a quarry access road through the center of town but were turned down by the council.