County Council member Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) sponsored a bill this week that would prohibit at-large council members -- if they actually become a reality -- from voting on the new council. A referendum to create two at-large council seats is being pushed by council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton).
The bill is one of three being considered by the County Council, which is trying to curtail the influence of prospective at-large council members should Hendershot's petition drive and referendum succeed.
Hendershot, who cannot run again for his council seat because of term limits, began shopping around the idea late last year of changing the Prince George's County charter to create two at-large council positions.
Dernoga said the push for the at-large seats by Hendershot, who says it will increase the voice of the council, is a "farce."
Currently, the council needs six out of nine votes to override a county executive veto. If the council increases to 11 members, the veto override succeeds with only eight votes.
"The voters need to know that this is just an attempt by a council member to get a second bite at the term limit apple," Dernoga said. "And the voters have already spoken on term limits."
In addition to Dernoga's charter amendment, other council members have sponsored an amendment that would prevent any council member elected in 2002 from running for election in 2006 for one of the at-large positions. Only two members of the council fall into that category: Hendershot and Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood), who is resigning from the council this week. The second change would keep the leadership election process the way it is, allowing the council to appoint a chairman each year. Hendershot wants to have the top vote-getter of the two at-large members to automatically become chairman.
The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments on July 27.
Hendershot on Hendershot
If Hendershot's push to get an at-large seat doesn't pan out, there's still a chance that there will be a Hendershot on the council two years from now.
That's because Hendershot's wife, Florence, may make a run for her husband's District 3 seat, which includes New Carrollton, College Park, Glen Dale and other areas in the northwestern part of the county.
"It's not out of the question," Council member Hendershot said recently.
So is this another way for Hendershot, a critic of term limits who has pushed to get them removed, of getting around the voter-imposed cap?
He says no.
"It has to do with her, not with me," Hendershot said.
"Should she choose to do it, she'll be a great candidate and a great member of the County Council. She's worked for years in the public school system, and she's exactly the kind of fighter we need for our public school system."
Florence Hendershot, who teaches history at Northwestern High School, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Ivey Comments on Cosby
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) said the county has made some strides in addressing its gang problem and car thefts since he took office two years ago.
"We've made a lot of headway, but we've a got a long way to go," Ivey said, speaking to a crowd of supporters last week at his second annual barbeque fundraiser at the Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville.
Ivey said he has been working with neighboring jurisdictions, including the District and the federal government, to address some of the county's crime problems.
"We have homeland security, but we've got to make sure our homes are secure," he said.
Then Ivey mentioned Bill Cosby, the man who has ignited fiery discussions in the black community about the black community.
In recent weeks, Cosby, often thought of as America's favorite TV dad, has criticized black youngsters and their parents. In a speech last month, Cosby said some young African Americans are the "dirty laundry" that many would prefer he not criticize, despite their poor grammar, foul language and rude manners.
"I was listening to Bill Cosby the other day," Ivey said.
"Yeah Bill!" yelled Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George's) from the audience.
Ivey said he was glad "Bill is speaking up right now." But he questioned whether Cosby has gone over the top with some of the comments he has made.
"I know there's a thing about dirty laundry, you don't want to sort it in public," Ivey said. "But is not sorting the dirty laundry more important than the people who are getting killed? . . . We've got to get people working on this."
Ivey also used his speech to thank his friends and supporters for their well-wishes earlier this year when he was diagnosed with cancer.
"The fact that you all made it here tonight indicates your level of support," Ivey said to the crowd, which traveled through a summer downpour and thunderstorm to attend the two-hour event. "I can't express how important this is, and I never realized how important [your support] was until this year when I had cancer."
Spotted at the event were a bevy of Democrats, including Ivey's longtime friend and former Prince George's County House Delegation Chairman Rushern L. Baker III, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, former county executive Wayne K. Curry and several members of the county House and Senate delegation.
"I really wanted to come because I hadn't seen him since he went into the hospital," said former County Council member Dorothy Bailey. "He looks great."