Councilman Kirby Delauter continued to press this week for details on his colleagues’ feelings on sanctuary county policies.
Delauter has been raising money for the 2018 county executive race on a promise that he would not support so-called “sanctuary county” policies that limit local government cooperation in enforcing federal immigration law.
On Tuesday, Delauter issued a press release calling on council members Jerry Donald, Bud Otis, Jessica Fitzwater and M.C. Keegan-Ayer, as well as County Executive Jan Gardner, “to make a commitment to Frederick County taxpayers by pledging that they will never support policies that would make the county a ‘sanctuary county’ for illegal immigrants.”
Delauter’s release invoked a recent Facebook post from Donald (D) in which Donald wrote that it was “an outright lie” that Democrats on the council and the county executive were discussing such policies.
“With several jurisdictions across the state refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement, protecting illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, and even moving to allow illegal immigrants to vote, the taxpayers deserve to hear where their local officials stand on the issue,” Delauter said in the release. “Will county officials allow the Sheriff and local police to unambiguously enforce the laws on the books, or will they ignore the law and risk millions in funding for local law enforcement over the next several years? There is no in-between.”
I contacted the council members and the county executive’s office to get their response to Delauter’s request that they take a stand on the issue.
Donald said that with an elected sheriff in the county, the only person with the power to not enforce the law is the sheriff himself. He also noted that Delauter is pushing discussion on the issue, and no one else.
“He is the only person on the Council or in the Executive branch I have EVER heard say ANYTHING about this,” Donald said in an email. “A sanctuary county means law enforcement would not enforce the law. The laws are enforced by the Sheriff. If he’s worried about the Sheriff enforcing the law then he should talk to the Sheriff. This is an obvious ploy to stir people up.”
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) also said there had been no discussion of sanctuary policies. “It’s odd that I would hear about this from a press release when Council Member Delauter has never asked me about it himself,” Fitzwater said in an email Tuesday evening. “He had an opportunity when I saw him tonight after our meeting but he did not say a word to me.”
Both Fitzwater and Otis (unaffiliated) said they are focused on legislation pending before the council — which does not include anything on sanctuary policies.
“[Councilman] Delauter has never approached me or discussed this matter with me at any time,” Otis wrote in an email. “We have serious matters pending before the County Council and I will not comment on what I consider a non-issue and is not before the County Council.”
Keegan-Ayer said no sanctuary legislation was being worked on, to her knowledge.
“Council members Donald, Fitzwater, Otis and I are busy with several legislative initiatives, but none dealing with creating a ‘sanctuary county,’” she said Tuesday.
Gardner called Delauter’s request “another example of being asked to not do something that we are already not doing.”
“While there is no real definition of ‘sanctuary’ cities or counties, the discussion is always focused on law enforcement. In Frederick County, we have a separately elected Sheriff who is fully responsible and in charge of law enforcement,” Gardner said in an email. “Kirby either does not understand the structure of county government or has lost faith in the Sheriff’s ability to do his job. If Kirby wants to focus on immigration, he should consider running for Congress.”
Shreve files public records request
Councilman Billy Shreve (R) filed a public records request this week, after he says the county administration failed to answer questions he has about the zoning department.
Shreve said he sent a request to the Frederick County executive’s office on Aug. 2 for a list of zoning violations for the past 12 months. On Aug. 29, Shreve sent a follow-up request. On Sept. 1, he decided to re-request the information through a Maryland Public Information Act request to the county attorney’s office.
“It is a sad day in Frederick County when an elected Council Member has to file a MPIA request to obtain public information,” Shreve said in a press release. “For a County Executive who ran on a platform of open and transparent government, I find this treatment insulting! She and I were elected to serve the same citizens and the fact that I have to resort to this procedure is an appalling failure of her Administration to the citizens of Frederick County. I will eagerly look forward to receiving this information in a timely manner.”
Shreve has been prickly toward the agency in recent months. After some county businesses were cited for operating without proper permits, Shreve questioned enforcement efforts, and at a July council meeting likened county zoning enforcers to South American gangs.
Shreve said his frustration has been building for months. He provided a clip from an April budget hearing when he asked for the list of violations. During that meeting, the county’s director of planning and permitting, Steve Horn, said he thought Shreve had been over to the division’s office to look at a log of violations and that “we’ve certainly made that available to you and your staff.”
It is not the first time Shreve has filed a Public Information Act request since he took office.
He and other members of the council’s Republican minority have said the process to request information under charter government — with council requests filtered up through the council chief of staff, then over to the county executive’s chief administrative officer, then to individual staff members — is too tenuous.
Frederick Sen. Ronald Young (D-District 3) is always fond of filing legislation early and announced two bills for the 2018 legislative session this week.
The Affordable Community Colleges Bill of 2018 aims to offer students of working-class families the opportunity to obtain vocational certificates or associate degrees without tuition costs. The Small Business Equity Act of 2018 seeks to require retail trade and food service corporations headquartered in other states to pay Maryland taxes.
Krimm appointed to broadband task force
Frederick Delegate Carol Krimm (D-District 3A) has been appointed to the Task Force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless and Cellular Service, where she will represent and advocate the interests of Western Maryland.
The task force was established during the 2016 General Assembly session by the Connecting Rural Maryland Act of 2017 (House Bill 1169).
Krimm was appointed to the 22-member task force by House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel). Counties included in the study area are Frederick, Carroll and Harford and throughout Western Maryland, southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
The task force will study and provide recommendations for improving high-speed Internet, connectivity, broadband communication services and obtaining federal assistance for underserved areas of the state.
“Access to affordable broadband service can be a game changer for business and expand educational opportunities for all students,” Krimm said in a press release. “I look forward to working with county and city officials to identify ways the state may assist to improve this service and seek federal funding.”
Recommendations will be made to Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly by Nov. 30.
On the road again
Rep. John Delaney (D-6th) will head south this weekend on his presidential campaign trail.
Delaney will be in North Carolina on Saturday to deliver the keynote address at the 2017 New Hanover County Democratic Party Unity Banquet. The event is sold out and a crowd of more than 350 people is expected, Delaney’s campaign said.
In August, Delaney campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire.
After Saturday’s event in North Carolina, Delaney will also campaign in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire this month.