The Chairwoman of the Republican Central Committee of Cecil County, Kathie Kennedy, filed a complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board on Friday September 17, 2021, against the Cecil County Council and Council President, Bob Meffley. The complaint outlined the failure of the Council to disclose the full agenda of their September 7th meeting. At that meeting, the Council introduced a Resolution to appoint members to the Redistricting Commission, which is required to be formed the year following the US Census. The composition of the Commission has been a hotly contested item and has been the target of a series of actions by Councilman Meffley that are against the law under the County Charter.
The Open Meetings Compliance Board has given Councilman Meffley 30 days to respond, at which point they will issue a ruling. The determination of the violation at this point is a formality. As Chairwoman Kennedy’s complaint points out, the Open Meetings Act requires that a public body release the agenda of a meeting as soon as practicable, but no less than 24 hours in advance of when the meeting is scheduled to take place. The complaint notes and provides evidence that the Council’s Agenda as of 1:15 PM on the day of the meeting, did not mention that the resolution appointing the Redistricting Commission would be introduced, nor did it include a draft of the resolution for the public to view, which is also required. Not only was this not done the day of, but the record continues to not be updated, and no resolution has been made publicly available.
Chairwoman Kennedy’s actions were necessitated by Councilman Meffley’s repeated efforts to undermine the integrity of the Redistricting Commission. The Council failed to abide by the Charter and form the Commission by the April 1st deadline. Councilman Meffley further delayed the Commission’s formation by removing names without authority, leading to a legal battle. Now, before the legal proceedings could fully play out, Councilman Meffley had the resolution introduced without public notice, and in contravention of the Open Meetings Act. The motive behind this maneuver to hide the resolution from the public is likely attributed to the fact that the Council replaced their one appointment on the Redistricting Commission to one of Meffley’s donors, Carl Roberts. Roberts served on Alan McCarthy’s transition team, has supported Martin O’Malley financially, and supported other candidates that Cecil County voters routinely reject. His selection is wildly unpopular amongst conservatives in Cecil County, and his selection behind closed doors and without the ability for the public to comment has caused Chairwoman Kennedy to act.
Although the resolution was voted on at the September 7th meeting, the vote was only for the introduction, and the final resolution will be voted on at the next Legislative meeting on September 21, 2021. Voters are encouraged to contact the Council to express their concern at the Council’s selection, and to attend the next Legislative Meeting on the 21st when the Council takes the final vote on the Resolution.