Prince George’s County Council members bemoaned what they said was inadequate time to vet nominees for the county’s Redevelopment Authority. As a result, the council didn’t vote on whether to approve or reject the nominees — clearing the path for their confirmation Tuesday.
According to county law, nominees for the Redevelopment Authority, the county agency tasked with facilitating redevelopment and private investment in the county, must be approved or rejected by the council within 45 days or the nominees are automatically confirmed. But council members said they were unable to formally vote on the nominees by the July 17 deadline, in part because they didn’t have enough information.
“There wasn’t vetting on a one-on-one basis,” said Councilwoman Mary Lehman (D-Dist. 1) of Laurel. “There wasn’t an opportunity to meet and talk with them to see what qualifications they would bring to the job, then there was no committee vetting, and it just went straight to the full council.”
Nominees are generally approved by one of the council’s committees before going to the full council for a formal vote. Four of the five nominees were unanimously approved in a July 3 session of the Committee of the Whole, an informal meeting of all council members to receive briefings and conduct interviews; however, one of the nominees, Nabee Yi, received a 4-3 vote, with two members abstaining, in favor of confirmation.
Council members said the close decision was a sign that more vetting was needed. Lehman said the nominees should have met with another committee in addition to the Committee of the Whole to get more information.
Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro, who said he abstained from voting on Yi because he wanted more time to review her credentials, said the confirmation process was delayed because of other issues facing the council, from nominations to various commissions to its role in zoning matters as the District Council.
“We just needed a better opportunity to learn about the nominations,” Franklin said. “But at this point, we just have to give the county executive the benefit of the doubt.”
Councilwoman Ingrid Turner (D-Dist. 4) also abstained from the Yi vote.
Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Baker, said in an email statement to The Gazette that the administration had made nominees available to council members for interviews.
“There is a very lengthy process to review nominations submitted by the County Executive’s office,” Peterson said in the email. “We make sure to abide by these time limits as well as avail our nominees to the Council to answer any questions they might have.”
Those confirmed to the Redevelopment Authority via the deadline are Yi, Harmon “Monty” Cooper, Christopher Aragona, former state Sen. David Harrington and Glenda Hodges.
Peterson said in an email that Yi “is an experienced business and community leader in both Prince George’s County and amongst the Asian-American community in the metropolitan area,” and said it is critical for the Redevelopment Authority to represent the “diversity” of businesses in the county.
Yi could not be located for comment.
Lehman said she had hoped that given some council members’ concerns, Baker would delay the nominations so they could be properly vetted by the council.
“I think the names should have been withdrawn,” Lehman said. “It’s a disservice to residents, and it shows an incredible amount of disrespect to the council.”