“I Pledge to the People of Cecil County…
1. Accountability & Transparency: Cecil County government will be accountable and provide high levels of transparency as we transition to a citizen-focused and more engaged style of governing.”
This is our County Executive Danielle Hornberger’s opening statement in her pledge to Cecil County. Less than two months in to her first term Ms. Hornberger has already broken the first pledge listed. On Thursday, January 14th she summarily dismissed all five sitting members of the Cecil County Ethics Commission. By Saturday, January 16th, she had the county website updated with her five handpicked replacements. This was all done behind the County Council’s back. They had no knowledge this was being done. The County Charter states that the five members of the Ethics Commission shall serve staggered four year terms. Although the charter doesn’t specifically spell it out, I think it is rather clear for the reasoning behind the staggered terms. In is to ensure that no one administration can stack the commission with all five members of their choosing.
Several questions and/or issues arise with this move. First off, what is Ms. Hornberger trying to hide that she feels compelled to dismiss a highly qualified Ethics Commission, some of whom are lawyers and some that have years of experience on the commission, having been placed by Tari Moore and Alan McCarthy.
Secondly, how can she claim transparency, being citizen-focused and having a more engaged style of governing when the County Council was clearly caught off guard by this maneuver? Having watched the Council meeting from Tuesday, January 19th, it was obvious that at least four out of the five members of County Council were not aware that this was going to happen, and as such, summarily dismissed all five of her appointees?
Finally, the arrogance of such a move I find appalling. Ms. Hornberger clearly feels that she is above the rules and laws. She has a proven history of flaunting her disdain for proper procedure. This does not bode well for the citizens of Cecil County. Her administration has not instilled any measure of trust, transparency or integrity during these first two months of her term.