Montgomery County Police lose effects bargaining -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 7.

Thirty years of effects bargaining ended Wednesday for Montgomery County Police when voters upheld a county law ending the police union’s right to bargain effects of management decisions, according unofficial election results.

But the war over the legality of Montgomery County’s campaign “for” Question B still continues in the courts.

As of 2 a.m., with all 238 precincts reporting, 210,491 ballots, or 58.4 percent, were cast “for” the referendum, and 149,955, or 41.6 percent, opposed.

Voters passing Question B will mean the county can make its good police department even better, county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said.

The unofficial results released on election night contain only those votes cast on voting machines during early voting and in the polling places on Election Day. Absentee ballots will be counted by the Montgomery County Board of Elections starting Thursday.

Voters affirming Question B allows a 2011 county bill to become law and repeal a 30-year law that gave police express rights to bargain effects.

By midnight the “no” votes had fallen 16 percent behind votes in favor of Question B.

With the release of early voting results on Tuesday, leaders of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 said the 8 percent that separated “yes” votes from “no’s” was vindication against what they allege was an illegal campaign by Montgomery County.

“Considering the efforts they’ve gone through, to have that small of a margin, I’m pleased to get the support,” Marc Zifcak, FOP immediate past president said.

“A political miracle for the FOP!” attorney Lanny Davis said in an email Tuesday.

Lacefield said the early voting numbers took him by surprise. He also said the efforts by the union to discredit the county’s campaign were not persuasive to voters.

The yearlong battle for effects bargaining started when the union gathered nearly 40,000 signatures to bring the measure to vote.

That battle might have appeared to be over Tuesday, but the war raging over county spending “for” the referendum still waged.

Davis, an attorney hired by the FOP to fight Question B, said the FOP is not dropping its case and he is confident the courts will also vindicate the police.

Just one day before the election, the police union sued Montgomery County, alleging it illegally spent county taxpayer money to campaign for Question B.

Filing suit was the union’s latest attempt to have the county’s publically financed campaign declared illegal.

The union first requested Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt investigate the county’s campaign. His investigation lasted only a few days, and Davitt referred the matter to Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler.

Davis, last week, alleged County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) pressured Davitt into backing down.

The union then turned to Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, asking for him to investigate into the county’s possible use of federal money for “political activity” to advocate for ballot Question B. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it could not comment.

Davis said he is confident the court will side with the FOP even though voters did not.

Lacefield said the pending litigation might soon come to an end.

“I would not be surprised if it all evaporated like the morning dew,” he said. “The voters have spoken. The rest is background noise.”

kalexander@gazette.net