Even as problem after problem continues to envelop the M-NCPPC and the Montgomery County Planning Board, three county councilmembers have put forward a bill that would reduce oversight of M-NCPPC (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) and WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission ).
Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Andrew Friedson and Sidney Katz have proposed legislation (also embedded below) that would remove both agencies from oversight by the county Inspector General. The stated grounds for this change is that each agency now has its own Inspector General under state law.
Normally, I’d support ending duplication of this sort. But the ongoing mess at M-NCPPC mitigates against reducing oversight. Over the past year, the following has occurred:
- Repeated violations of the Open Meetings Act (see here and here).
- Violations of ethics law and M-NCPPC’s own lobbying policy.
- Failure to conduct a proper racial equity and social justice analysis for Thrive 2050 (see here, here and here).
- Failure to consult widely and include a range of views in Thrive 2050.
- Chair disciplined for flouting the rules banning alcohol in the workplace (see here and here). Two other commissioners also disciplined.
- Complaint filed by Planning Board Vice Chair Partap Verma alleging “a toxic and misogynistic workplace.”
All of these failures lead me to wonder that anyone is doing oversight, not that there is too much of it. Until the situation is brought under control, this portion of the bill needs to be binned.
UPDATE: Sonya Healy, the Legislative Information Officer for the County Council, writes that the county Inspector General already lacks authority over M-NCPPC and WSSC in the wake of the county’s successful advocacy for “dedicated oversight” at the state level. Whether this was a good idea remains an open question given the serious problems and seeming lack of oversight that continue to plague the Planning Board.