By Adam Pagnucco.
It’s no secret that the relationship between the executive branch and the county council is not one of roses and chocolates. After rejecting County Executive Marc Elrich’s tax hike and rewriting his recommended budget, the council decided that his strategy for COVID-19 testing was inadequate and decided to create one of its own. But such things are positively amorous compared to the council’s likely reaction to Elrich’s joke – recorded on a hot mic – that the council is “fact proof.”
The joke was made during a Facebook video of Elrich and some of his top staffers preparing for a media briefing earlier today. The preparatory discussion should not have been shown, but it was – and eyeballs were on it. Elrich, county health officer Travis Gayles and county emergency management director Earl Stoddard were talking about how to discuss COVID-19 infection rates among Latinos in the wake of a Washington Post article on disproportionate cases in that community. So far, so good – public health data has multiple layers and is not always easily conveyed in casual discussion, especially in the press.
But then Elrich’s delightfully snarky sense of humor kicked in as Facebook viewers watched. At 3:15, Elrich cracked, “Can I say the council is fact proof?” Gayles laughed and replied, “You’re welcome to say whatever you want to say!” Stoddard followed with, “I’m not sure how helpful it is, but you could say it!” As of this writing, the video has been removed – but not before it was recorded.
Elrich is a funny character when he wants to be and he has to be frustrated with the council. But I guarantee that no one on the council is amused. Given the immense powers the council possesses under the charter and its demonstrated willingness to use them against the executive, the council might just get the last laugh.