Congratulations to Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond and her colleagues on the County Council for closing the Baltimore County pension-grab barn door long after the horses have gone (“Baltimore County Council scales back pension benefit,” Sept. 6). Ms. Almond’s bill accomplishes nothing of value because she waited far too long to act. Specifically, she waited until after the primary beneficiaries of the controversial 2010 bill that created the pension windfall, including County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, had legally vested in the benefits created by the bill.
By waiting so long, Ms. Almond assured that the windfall could not be taken away from Mr. Kamenetz and the other high-ranking county officials. Are we to believe that was not her intent?
Her comment implying that she acted to stop the windfall when it was “brought to light” that the subject provision of the 2010 bill “benefited just a few people” was particularly disingenuous, even by Baltimore County government standards. Ms. Almond took office in 2010, months after Bill No. 30-10 was enacted into law, but just as the public furor erupted over the amendment that created the windfall. The amendment was slipped into the bill at the last minute and initially escaped public notice.
The Baltimore Sun ran two editorials decrying the windfall, one in 2011 and another in 2012. Former Baltimore County Attorney Virginia Barnhart wrote a scathing letter to the editor of The Sun in 2011 questioning the legality of the “sweetheart pension deal” and calling on the new County Council — which included Ms. Almond — to repeal it (“Baltimore County pension windfall should be investigated,” Dec. 20, 2011). Had Ms. Almond acted in a timely manner when the problem was “brought to light,” the windfall could have been lawfully eliminated. She and other members of the County Council chose not to do so.
So why act now? Could it have anything to do with her run for county executive in 2018? Ms. Almond gets to lay claim to being a “reform” candidate without accomplishing any reform. How clever, except for the fact that the voters of Baltimore County are not as stupid as she takes them to be.
[Published as a letter to the editor by The Baltimore Sun on September 7, 2017 but not posted to my blog until January 8, 2018. The date of posting that appears above was backdated to place all posts in the order in which they were written.]