The fight over police “effects bargaining” — which included a refused debate request, brief state prosecutor investigation and still lingering lawsuit — went the Montgomery County government’s way last night, with 58 percent of voters supporting a 2011 law that repealed effects bargaining rights.
The county police union wanted to remain the only police union in the state with bargaining rights over administrative issues such as the use of email, equipment turn-in, rules for raids and video systems in police cars. The union hired Washington D.C. lobbyist Lanny Davis, who touched off a spirited campaign against Question B and who openly accused county officials of spreading misleading information.
County officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), members of the all-Democratic County Council and head county spokesman Patrick Lacefield, said the repeal of effects bargaining was necessary as the process hindered MCPD Chief Thomas Manger’s ability to make needed and swift administrative moves, thus hurting public safety.
On Monday, the union filed a lawsuit against Leggett and Lacefield, alleging they improperly used taxpayer funds to run an informational campaign urging voters to support Question B.
They also said the county intentionally prevented them from advertising their case on county-operated Ride On buses, though county officials countered they did not act illegally in lobbying for their law.
Yesterday, 210,491 county voters supported the county’s position, while just fewer than 150,000 voted against doing away with the bargaining rights. A union official told The Gazette he was pleased the gap was so close, at least among early voters. Davis also said they would not drop the lawsuit.
Lacefield saw things differently.
“I would not be surprised if it all evaporated like the morning dew,” he told The Gazette. “The voters have spoken. The rest is background noise.”