The Montgomery County Council will take final action Tuesday on a bill that would allow bus drivers, county librarians and other managers to bar people they deem disruptive from county facilities for up to 90 days.
The American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area deems the measure "flawed" and says it is inconsistent with state law, but the council seems ready to approve it. "I think it will pass," said council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg), whose public safety committee unanimously endorsed the measure.
The bill was introduced at the request of County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), whose staff members have discussed for years a way to give county employees more authority to end disputes -- such as those between library patrons eager to use free Internet terminals -- short of calling the police.
One of the ACLU's worries is that the law would allow facility managers to both accuse people of disruptive behavior and effectively punish them through a ban on facility use.
"Due process requires that someone other than the person making the accusation of disruptive behavior judge whether it really is disruptive," wrote ACLU legislative counsel Stephen M. Block in a June 3 letter to council President Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large). The organization also argues that Maryland court rulings do not authorize banishing people for trespassing on public property.
Andrews responds that the law would provide the opportunity to appeal the banishment the next business day to a senior county administrator. "I think that should reassure people," he said.
O'Malley Foray Into County
Perhaps invigorated by his meet-and-greet with Montgomery County Democrats early this month, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) is visiting Rockville -- where he grew up -- to speak to the Montgomery County Civic Federation on June 14.
The federation is billing the event as a chance for O'Malley to discuss his CitiStat program, which enables Baltimore officials to monitor the city's problems and their progress in fixing them.
But the speech is also a good reason to return to Montgomery for O'Malley, who is running an undeclared campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in 2006. For the same reason, county executive Duncan doesn't overlook opportunities to visit Baltimore these days.
To have the leading lights of the party going at it so early worries Democrat Isiah Leggett. "My concern as [state] party chair is that we dispense a lot of resources, time and effort . . . in a very costly primary fight, and the governor will be sitting there with no primary," he said.
But there is no stopping the juggernaut of political ambition as Duncan and O'Malley attempt to build statewide recognition. "We're going to see quite a bit of these cross-jurisdictional forays," Leggett said.
The Civic Federation will meet at 7:45 pm in the 3rd floor hearing room of the county office building at 100 Maryland Ave.
Helping Small Firms
County Council members Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) and Howard A. Denis (R-Potomac-Bethesda) are leading an initiative to help small businesses adversely affected by Montgomery projects such as the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring.
The program will make $100,000 available in the fiscal year that begins July 1, which may not seem like much in comparison with the multimillions the county has invested to rejuvenate Silver Spring.
Still, Denis said the council is taking a step in the right direction.
"This has been a missing link for the county; small business really does fall through the cracks," he said. Denis acknowledged that a grant of, say, several thousand dollars "can't, probably, solve the problem, but it can be a bridge. Five thousand dollars could be huge if you're being squeezed through no fault of your own."
Last spring, Katy Harvey, the popular principal of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School since 1999, decided she would leave. She was persuaded to stay, she won a Washington Post award for outstanding principals, and now Harvey has decided again to leave.
She told parents and students that she submitted her resignation last Friday.
Also retiring is Jerry Marco, principal of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda for one-third of a century.
Staff Writer Linda Perlstein contributed to this report.