Council has seven standing committees. These are Economic Development (Mike Dowd - C); Finance (Lamont McClure - C); Human Services (Joe Capozzolo - C); Intergovernmental Affairs (Peg Ferraro - C); Legal, Judicial & Operations (Lamont McClure - C); Personnel (John Cusick - C); and Open Space (Charles Dertinger - C). Until this year, there was an eighth committee, Operations and Administration. Having failed to meet even once in the three previous years, it was merged into McClure's Legal & Judicial Club.
Traditionally, the County Council President chairs no Committee. That explains Ann McHale, last year's President, chaired no committees. Ron Angle, irate that no one would listen to him as chair of Finance, stepped down in 2008, and McHale refused to let him chair anything else. She named Lamont McClure to chair what effectively amounts to three committees - prestigious Finance, Legal and defunct Operations.
You'd never know that from his committee attendance record.
Council's standing committees conducted twenty-three meetings last year. Since every member of council is encouraged to participate in every committee, it's a pretty accurate gauge of the time and effort each councilperson devotes to government service. The committees that meet are also a good indication of what council members think are important.
Council's usually busy Finance committee, which met eleven times in 2008 with Angle at the helm, met only four times in 2009 under McClure. It made no difference that the County was facing a tax increase or that there was a state budget impasse.
John Cusick's busy Personnel Committee convened eight times, dealing with a Sheriff appointment as well as a controversial LANTA Board nominee.
The big surprise, at least for me, was Rev. Mike Dowd's Economic Development Committee, which met six times in 2009, twice as often as the previous year.
Human Sevices, under the stewardship of appointed Council member Joe Capozzolo, met four times. Charles Dertinger's Open Space Committee met just once. McClure's Legal and Judicial and Peg Ferraro's Intergovernmental Committee conducted no business.
Council member John Cusick attended 19 committee meetings last year, making him the hardest working and most dedicated council member for the third straight year.
Following closely behind Cusick, and surprising me again, was modest Rev. Mike Dowd, who attended 17 committee hearings last year, seeking no accolades.
Four other council members - Ann McHale (13), Ron Angle, Peg Ferraro and Joe Capozzolo (all tied at 12) - have solid committee attendance records this year.
Lamont McClure, who does have a law practice, attended only six committee meetings, equalling his pitiful 2008 performance and just one more than in 2007.
Charles Dertinger, with 5 committee meetings that equalled his abysmal 2008 record, was at the bottom of the heap. Even Jerry Seyfried, who was not even appointed to Council until July, attended 9 different meetings, nearly twice as many as Dertinger.
Naturally, Dertinger and McClure were two of Council's three loudest mouths.
Dertinger undoubtedly blames his Council loss on angry Republicans, mobilized by President Barack Obama's agenda.
But Dertinger's own shoddy record had to contribute to this loss. If I were McClure, I'd be looking over my shoulder.
Blogger's Note: Previous years can be reviewed here: 2006, 2007 & 2008.