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Maryland Business: A courtesy code for City Council?

Carl Stokes

Councilman Carl Stokes (File photo)

A week after the finale to a series of bruising public debates over a $1 billion waterfront development among the City Council and the public, a resolution that seeks a new era of civility at City Hall has been drawn up for the council’s consideration.

The “City Council Code of Courtesy” comes one week after the council voted for a $107 million tax increment financing package to help developer Michael Beatty fund infrastructure, parks and a new bridge at the $1.8 billion luxury waterfront development near Harbor East. The resolution was listed on Monday evening’s agenda, but won’t be formally introduced until next week, sponsor Carl Stokes, the 12th District councilman, said Monday.

Members of the Northwest Community Development Corp., Park Heights Community Development Corp. and the Southern Christian Leadership Council, Baltimore chapter sought the courtesy resolution, Stokes said, after what they believe was an insult lodged toward their members during an Aug. 7 hearing at City Hall that centered on a city-sponsored tax increment financing package for Harbor Point.

At the hearing, Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector referred to protestors who showed up to lobby against the TIF as the “peanut gallery.”

Spector voted for the Harbor Point TIF package – also pushed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — and was a strong supporter of it during a series of contentious hearings this summer at City Hall.

The woes continued at the council meeting on Sept. 9 when the panel voted on three bills that set up the TIF district and allowed the sale of bonds to private investors to fund the TIF, Stokes said.

“There were about 20 police officers at the meeting,” he said. “Obviously, people feel there’s been some disrespect and some push from both sides. It’s on the council to refrain from being discourteous.

“The council has fallen back from real civil discourse. The council needs to step back, take a breath and retrace our steps.”

Stokes added that his resolution also seeks a public apology from Spector for the “peanut gallery” remarks.

Spector was out of town and did not return a call for comment.

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