Despite a last-minute attempt at an amendment, the City Council tonight approved Council President Nick Mosby’s bill making elected officials eligible for pensions after eight years instead of 12 years.
Reportedly introduced to blunt the effect of a charter amendment establishing term limits that was approved earlier this month by city voters, the bill passed by a vote of 8 to 5 to 2.
Voting yes, along with Mosby, were Council members John Bullock, Kristerfer Burnett, Antonio Glover, Danielle McCray, Sharon Green Middleton, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer and Robert Stokes.
Voting no were Council members Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Phylicia Porter, Odette Ramos and James Torrence.
Council members Mark Conway and Eric Costello abstained.
When members explained their “no” votes, there was applause from the members in the audience. After the vote, someone yelled out, “Shame, shame.”
The bill now moves to the desk of Mayor Brandon Scott, who has not taken a public position on it.
UPDATE (11/22/22) from his spokeswoman: “Mayor Scott respects the legislative process and will give full consideration to any bills sent to his desk.
Opponents of the measure tried to slow the measure’s roll, but Mosby, who has been speeding it through the legislative process, outflanked them.
“I’d like to be recognized before we vote,” Cohen told Mosby shortly before the the bill (22-0292) was introduced.
As the clerk began reading the bill title, Mosby interrupted and rephrased Cohen’s request:
“Hold on,” he said to Cohen, “You want to comment on your vote?”
After Cohen said yes, Mosby said, “Okay, the floor is yours,” and Cohen went on to repeat objections he has made to the bill in the past.
He said the process was rushed, that the finance department and pension director objected to its possible impact on city finances and it “sends the wrong message to the communities we serve.”
“We know that Baltimoreans are struggling. We know that we are likely headed into a recession,” Cohen said, before voting “no.”
At this point Ramos, saying she had changed her mind on the pension bill, tried to introduce an amendment.
The amendment would have allowed eight-year vesting for only for those elected after 2024.
Mosby told her the amendment could not be introduced. “We’re voting at this point.”
“We can do amendments on third reader, sir,” Ramos said.
“No, we can’t. The motion’s already on the floor,” Mosby replied. “We’re already voting.”
And despite parliamentary objections from Ryan Dorsey, a vocal pension bill opponent, Mosby prevailed.
What the Voters Want?
Mosby did not talk about the impact of the vesting change on his own pension prospects, but stressed that it should be enacted because “the voters have been very clear that they want term limits in the city of Baltimore, including us.”
“We could kind of look in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, we get 12 years, but I don’t think that’s exactly what the voters want,’” Mosby said. “They want term limits here in the city of Baltimore now.”
“Many of you can decide to take extra years. . . but that’s not what the voters want. They want elected officials with term limits and everyone is free to mosey along how they wish,” he said.
It apparently wasn’t what some members of the audience in the Council Chamber wanted to hear.
After the vote was taken, a person yelled out, “Selfish money grab,” as another shouted, “Shame! Shame!”