MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2023 (Revised as of March 26, 2023)
5:00 PM (Please note special time)
Watch the meeting on Laurel TV streaming live in your web browser at https://laureltv.org/watch-live or locally Laurel TV can be found on Comcast Channel 996 (HD), 71 (SD) or Verizon FiOS Channel 12.
MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2023 5:00 P.M. (Special Time)
The meeting convened in-person at the Laurel Municipal Center at approximately 5:01 pm with Council President Brencis D. Smith presiding. The roll was called with Councilman Carl DeWalt, Councilman Martin Mitchell, Councilman Keith R. Sydnor and Craig A. Moe, Mayor present. Councilman James Kole was sick and had an excused absence from the meeting.
The following staff members were also present: Christian L Pulley, CPM, City Administrator, Joanne Barr, Deputy City Administrator, Sara A. Green, CMC, City Clerk, Ana Navarro, Executive Assistant to the Mayor, Bill Bailey, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Audrey Barnes, Director, Department of Communications, James Cornwell-Shiel, Director, Department of Information Technology, Chief Russell Hamill, LPD, Brian K. Lee, Director, Department of Public Works, Robert Love, Director, Department of Economic and Community Development, Deputy Chief Mark Plazinksi, LPD, S. Michele Saylor, Director, Department of Budget and Personnel Services, Danny Selby, Director, Office of the Fire Marshal and Permit Services, Larry Taub, City Solicitor, and Chrissy Cornwell, Emergency Manager. There were approximately (45) members of the public in attendance.
Agenda Item No. 4 was the approval of the meeting minutes of: February 1, 2023 Work Session; February 13, 2023- Twenty-fourth meeting of the Mayor and City Council; and the February 27, 2023- Twenty-fifth meeting of the Mayor and City Council. Councilman Sydnor made a motion to approve all of the minutes for February 2023. The motion was seconded by Councilman DeWalt and carried on a roll call vote of all Councilmembers present as written.
Agenda Item No. 5 was the report of the Mayor and City Council. Councilman DeWalt welcomed the Department of Public Works (DPW) employees who were at the meeting, said that DPW employees were essential and that the employees were there to get the proper paperwork in to be able to unionize and collectively bargain with the City of Laurel and that the process was taking too long. Councilman DeWalt said that the City already had a collective bargaining agreement with the Laurel Police Department and that all that needed to be done was for the City Solicitor to draft up an ordinance to allow DPW employees to do the same.
Councilman Martin Mitchell expressed get well wishes to Councilman Kole; March 14, 2023 attended the Patuxent River Clean up with Congressman Glenn Ivey; March 17, 2023 helped out with Laurel High School Open Mats Wrestling tournament setup and attended the Knights of Columbus Patuxent River Council Friday Night Fish Fry; March 18, 2023 attended Casey and Darrell’s housing warming- they were tenants affected by the rent increase at Patuxent Place and were able to buy a house within the City. NCAA Finals Division 1 Wrestling and he hosted a watch party with Laurel High School and St. Vincent Pallotti High School Wrestling Teams at DC Homme on Main Street. March 20, 2023 attended the Greater Washington Clean Cities Coalition and met with members of the Willow Oaks community with Councilman DeWalt. Wished everyone a happy Ramadan and was shadowed by Laurel Lakes Senior Housing resident Ms. Ellen Lyons. March 23, 2023 attended the Department of Public Works meeting at the Laurel Library; March 25, 2023 Happy Maryland Day; Attended the Charisma Food Bank food distribution event, attended the community resource fair hosted by the Top Ladies of Distinction at his old elementary school, American Legion Post 60 Craft Fair, and the Women’s History Month Black Authors event at the Laurel Branch Library. Spoke to Chief Hamill and would appreciate being notified of critical incidents that occur in the City. Appreciated all DPW employees for attending and briefly spoke about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final fight in February 1968 when 1,300 sanitation workers began to strike and that a Charter Amendment allowing DPW the right to unionize and collectively bargain, was needed and hoped everyone could reach a consensus so that workers were not forced to go to management with their issues and could be represented by a union.
Councilman Sydnor reported that on March 15, 2023 he attended a Day of Empathy hosted by Prince George’s County Councilman Calvin Hawkins; March 25, 2023 attended Community Resource Fair at Oakland’s Elementary School hosted by Top Ladies of Distinction. Councilman Sydnor said that February 27, 2023 was the first time that he had heard that the Department of Public Works employees wished to unionize and that he did not have an issue with it and then it came up again at the March 13, 2023 meeting of the Mayor and City Council and at that time, they said that the Administration needed time to sort through some things and he believed that out of professional courtesy to the executive office of the City, that needed to be respected. He said that the Mayor was not against collective bargaining and that the Council was not against the Mayor and the Mayor was not against the Council and that he wanted to work with the Mayor and the Administration to determine the best course of action for all involved and that it wasn’t right to disparage other Councilmembers because they don’t necessarily agree with another.
Council President Smith asked that all members of the audience be respectful and not talk over anyone who was speaking. President Smith said that he agreed with Councilman Sydnor, that he was in favor of DPW unionization, but that as a professional courtesy and respect for Mayor Moe and the Administration, the issue would be taken up in June. President Smith said that he had been attending the National League of Cities Conference in DC and attended the end of the Top Ladies of Distinction Resource Fair at Oaklands Elementary School.
Mayor Moe offered condolences to Ms. Sonja Thompson and the friends and family of Mr. Phillip Gise. Thanked Congressman Glenn Ivey for attending the International Day of Action for River’s in Laurel. Thanked Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School PTSA for inviting him and Chief Hamill to talk about things going on in and around the City. March 16, 2023 attended the Prince George’s County Municipal Association Town Hall Meeting and the March 20, 2023 Central Maryland Chamber Awards Gala and congratulated Mrs. Rosa Maher for receiving an award for all the work she does with the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and the community. March 21, 2023 met with Howard County Executive Calvin Ball regarding ways that the City and Howard County could partner together on certain things and also attended the Knights of Columbus Patuxent Council 2023 Annual Community Awards Ceremony. March 23, 2023 attended the Laurel Police Department Awards Ceremony and Mayor’s Association for Prince George’s County meeting. March 25, 2023 attended the Celebration of Life for Bob Ross, NAACP Past President. Mayor Moe announced the April 1, 2023 Eggstravaganza at Granville Gude Park at 12:00 pm.
Agenda Item No. 6 was the General Public Hearing. President Smith reminded the speakers that they were each permitted to speak for three (3) minutes and that when a name was called, to go up to the lectern and state their name and address for the record. President Smith opened the General Public Hearing at 5:20 pm and called on the first speaker, Ms. Ann Butler-Jackson and Ms. Marcia Gibson representing Woodland Job Corp located at 3300 Fort Meade Road Laurel, Maryland 20724 thanked Councilman Sydnor for inviting them to attend and spoke briefly regarding what was offered at Woodland Job Corp and some of the vacancies that they had.
The next person signed up to speak with Mr. Cortland Jones, 13027 Old Stagecoach Road Laurel, Maryland 20708 was invited by Councilman Keith R. Sydnor and asked to provide the Council with some written information (“Attachment A”) that he provided to each Councilmember at the dais. Mr. Jones said that he was a retired educator and that he started a literacy program when he worked at Greenbelt Middle School that was well supported by the community and the school and wanted to do the same in the Laurel area. He said he partnered with Christine Johnson and J Media Publishing, had just hosted a women and literacy program at the Laurel Library.
Next, Mr. Gino Renne, UFCW- 1994 in Montgomery County said that he was President of the local 1994 union and had secured local bargaining statues throughout the State and local level and was wondering why it was taking so long to grant the permission to DPW to collective bargaining when the City already had a model law with the Laurel Police Department. Mr. Renne said that he was confused about comments made that the “Executive” of the City makes the decision or leads on the issue and that executives who stand in the way of public employees exercising their right to collective bargaining was no better than a CAO who states that their employees do not deserve the right to collective bargaining. Mr. Renne said that he was not sure if that was Mayor Moe’s position or not but asked the Mayor to expedite the process and allow for collective bargaining of DPW staff. Invited the Mayor to do research on his union and that they prided themselves on having relationships with each employer that they had contracts with and named some of the agencies that they were a part of the union. Mr. Renne said that he was in favor of partnering with the City and wasn’t sure why a bill wasn’t moving forward.
Ms. Kate Wright, 14913 First Baptist Lane Laurel, Maryland 20707 addressed the Mayor and City Council and stated that she was the Administrative Assistant in the Department of Public Works and provided a summary of a citizen who needed assistance on Wilson Street with a sewer back up and how she went the extra mile to help the citizen. Ms. Wright said that the Council said last month that they supported DPW unionizing and nothing had been done and urged the Council to call a special work session to expedite DPW unionizing. Ms. Wright said that if the matter was delayed, there was no guarantee that another Council who could take over after the fall elections, would be in support of DPW unionizing and that the Mayor and City Council should move forward so that the union did not have to wait to take full effect until after the FY2025 budget.
Mr. Lloyd Holloway- 7224 Split Rail Lane Laurel, Maryland 20707 said he was a DPW employee and wanted to present something to Councilman Mitchell and Councilman DeWalt and handed them each some documents. Mr. Holloway said that what he had just handed them was DPW employees draft legislation (“Attachment B”) that they were requesting they look at it and consider passing it to allow DPW to unionize. Mr. Holloway said that he had reached out to MCGEO to start the unionization process to protect himself and his coworkers and they were essential employees and put their life on the line everyday just like Laurel Police Department did and that the City did that in no time.
The next speaker was Travon McMillian- 7223 Split Rail Lane Laurel, Maryland 20707 who said that he was a DPW employee for the past two (2) years that he wanted to share a petition that he and his coworkers had taken time out of their workday to obtain signatures on the petition and that the community wanted DPW employees to be able to unionize and collectively bargain. Mr. McMillian provided the petition (“Attachment C”) to the Clerk and encouraged the Mayor and City Council to move forward with the legislation.
Next, Ms. Ellen Lyons, 7901 Laurel Lakes Court Laurel, Maryland 20707 spoke stating that she was a proud of resident of the City of Laurel and that she was not proud of the leadership of the City and that she had been before the Mayor and City Council first about the rent stabilization matter and now about the DPW unionization matter. Ms. Lyons said that she thought both of them had been shut down by Mayor Moe and the Council President, compared them to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, and that she did not want that in Laurel. Ms. Lyons said that the Mayor and Council President did not care about the people and encouraged voters to go out and vote during the next election and to vote them out of office.
Mr. Wilbert Nicholson- 7TH Street Laurel, Maryland 20707 said that over the years he had worked with politicians in the City and talked with Councilman DeWalt and Mitchell and had spoken with Councilman Sydnor and President Smith to try to do something for the youth in the community. He said he spoke with the Mayor the other day and that the Mayor said he wasn’t going to do anything. He asked why the City would make a Boys and Girls Club that was already struggling, get a permit and make tenants get a permit? Wanted to know if the City was going to do the same to Pallotti when they held events and said that the City had given the Laurel Boys and Girls Club nothing and that the City did not support the Club. Mr. Nicholson also said that he had an inspection at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club and had a violation because of some old tires in a shed and that he had removed them.
The next speaker was Alejandro Miranda, MCGEO, supporting the unionization of DPW employees. Mr. Miranda said that he was confused because at the February meeting, DPW asked to unionize and then a meeting was called where employees could express their concerns with the City Administrator and that he thought it was a “unionbusting” meeting. Mr. Miranda then stated that on March 24, 2023 a grievance policy signed by the Mayor was released and didn’t understand why the City wouldn’t grant DPW employees the right to unionize and that if DPW were under the NLRB they would have already filed a complaint regarding unfair labor practices.
President Smith closed the public hearing at 5:45 pm.
Agenda Item No. 7 was the second public hearing with possible action on Resolution No. 4-2023- a Resolution to Accept the Report of the City of Laurel No-Kill Community Animal Shelter Task Force, Authorizing the Mayor to Move Forward with the Planning, Funding, and Providing a Timeline for Completion of a No-Kill Community Animal Shelter. President Smith read the title into the record for the second reading. Mayor Moe did not have anything to add. President Smith opened the public hearing on the item at 5:46 pm. Former Councilmember Fred Smalls- 14933 Belle Ami Drive Laurel, Maryland 20707 spoke in favor of the resolution stating that when he was on the Council he lead the effort to the update the City’s animal control laws and encouraged the Council to take immediate action on the resolution even by going as far as suspending the rules to approve that night. President Smith closed the public hearing at 5:47 pm. Councilman DeWalt started to make a motion to suspend the rules on the item, but Ms. Green clarified for the record that the resolution was on the agenda for the second public hearing with possible action so there was no need to suspend the rules. Councilman DeWalt made a motion to approve the resolution, Councilman Sydnor seconded the motion and was carried on a unanimous roll call vote. Mayor Moe concurred with the action.
Agenda Item No. 8 was the second public hearing with possible action on Resolution No. 5-2023, a Resolution of the Mayor and City Council of Laurel, Maryland to Set the Date, Time and Polling Location for Early Voting in the City of Laurel for the General Election of November 2023. Ms. Sara A. Green, CMC, City Council noted that she did not have anything to add. There was no one signed up to speak. President Smith opened and closed the public hearing on the item at 5:49 pm. Councilman Sydnor made a motion to approve the resolution that was seconded by Councilman Mitchell and carried on a unanimous roll call vote. Mayor Moe concurred with the action.
The next agenda item was the second public hearing with possible action on Ordinance No. 2007- an Ordinance of the Mayor and City Council of Laurel, Maryland to Amend the Laurel City Code Chapter 18, to Update the Permit Requirements for Sediment and Erosion Control Plans and Providing an Effective Date. President Smith read the title into the record for the second time and asked Director Danny Selby if he had anything to add. Mr. Selby did not. There were no questions from the Council. There was no one signed up to speak on the item and President Smith opened and closed the public hearing at 5:50 pm. A motion to approve Ordinance No. 2007 as written was made by Councilman Sydnor, seconded by Councilman Mitchell, and carried on a unanimous roll call vote. Mayor Moe concurred with the action.
Agenda Item No. 10 was the second public hearing with possible action on Charter Resolution No. 177- a Charter Resolution of the Mayor and City Council of Laurel, Maryland Amending Article 400 “Administration” of the Charter of the City of Laurel to Reflect the Creation of a New Department Entitled the Department of Community Resources and Emergency Management (CREM) and Adding Section 469 “Director of the Department of Community Resources and Emergency Management (Emergency Manager). President Smith read the title into the record for the second time. President Smith asked City Administrator Pulley if she had anything else to add regarding the Charter Resolution. Ms. Pulley said that she did not. Councilman Sydnor asked how many days from the date of approval of Charter Resolution were required before it would become effective. Ms. Pulley said that it would fifty (50) days after approval. There was no one signed up to speak and President Smith opened and closed the public hearing at 5:51 pm. Councilman Sydnor made a motion to approve Charter Resolution No. 177 as written. The motion was seconded by Councilman Mitchell and carried on a roll call vote by all members present. Mayor Moe concurred with the action.
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 5:55 p.m.
Attachment A- Literacy Program Information provided by Mr. Cortland Jones
Attachment B- Draft Charter Resolution provided by Lloyd Holloway to Councilmen DeWalt and Mitchell
Attachment C- DPW Unionization Petition provided by Travon McMillian
Approved: Sara A. Green, CMC Date: May 22, 2023